Health & Wellness

USU Nutrition and Dietetics Team Nationally Recognized for Create Better Health Curriculum

By Madison Leak |

CREATE Better Health is part of USU Extension's efforts to educate SNAP recipients and for anyone interested in improving nutrition, cooking and food security skills. One facet of the program includes outreach at farmers markets throughout Utah.

Utah State University Assistant Professor Mateja R. Savoie-Roskos and a research team in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences (NDFS) have been honored with the 2020 Best Great Educational Material (GEM) award by the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB) for the article Create Better Health: A Practical Approach to Improving Cooking Skills and Food Security.

The award criteria ranks peer reviewed publications and accompanying educational materials on their level of innovation and creativity, quality of design, quality of the writing and presentation of the publication, as well as the quality of the project’s evaluation.

“Receiving this award is a huge honor,” Savoie-Roskos said. “I’m honored to have received it so early in my career and I’m especially proud of our team and all of the hard work and effort that was put into the curriculum, evaluation, and publication.”

USU Extension and NDFS faculty and staff members Casey Coombs, Jaqueline Neid-Avila, Leslie Rowley, Heidi LeBlanc and students Jeffrey Chipman and Sara Nelson worked with Savoie-Roskos to develop the study’s design, conduct the evaluations, analyze data, and prepare the manuscript. In addition, Coombs and Neid-Avlia developed the Create Better Health Curriculum.

“Mateja is widely recognized for her work in the area of public health nutrition,” Heidi Wengreen, head of the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences said of Savoie-Roskos. “Her work is frequently published in high-impact journals and this award is just one of several that she has received over the past couple of years. She is a big contributor to the success of our academic and research programs in Extension, dietetics, nutrition science, and the masters of public health programs.”

The 2020 Best GEM Award recognizes a study on implementing a curriculum created and executed by Savoie-Roskos and her team, which will be available nationally in a toolkit through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, widely known as SNAP-Ed.

“The skills taught in this curriculum through the ‘Create’ concept can help ensure that families are able to stretch their food dollars without compromising the nutritional quality of their meals,” Savoie-Roskos said. “It’s designed to help improve participants’ food resource management skills and is tailored specifically for individuals with a limited food budget.”

Though focused on assisting people with limited food budgets, this curriculum is designed to be useful to everyone. Beginners and experienced cooks can make each recipe their own with the Create Better Health curriculum, which is available as a PDF download through Utah State University Extension. The PDFs include several guided recipes that encourage meal creativity, fact sheets on basic nutrition information, shopping tricks and tips and easy ways to be physically active.

The award-winning curriculum is available on the USU Extension’s website, at and offers a number of resources, including an online cooking course, meal planning tools and tips, recipes and healthy food activities for kids.

Associate Professor Mateja Savoie-Roskos leads a team that has been honored by the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior as its top nutrition education program of the year.


Madison Leak
College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences


Mataja Savoie-Roskos
Assistant Professor
Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences


Research 681stories Awards 578stories Extension 340stories Education 247stories Food 127stories Nutrition 70stories

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