Through the Eat Your Words campaign, 50,000 copies of the book Sylvia’s Spinach, written by Katherine Pryor, will be given to families at partnering schools.

May 16, 2022
By Chrissa Carlson

Maryland SNAP-Ed, a program of University of Maryland Extension, in partnership with Maryland Department of Human Services, will be distributing free books to students at partner schools and youth program sites across the state of Maryland. Through the Eat Your Words campaign, 50,000 copies of the book Sylvia’s Spinach, written by Katherine Pryor, will be given to families at partnering schools. In the story, a young girl’s relationship with spinach changes from “yuck” to “yum” when she grows spinach in her school garden.

The statewide book distribution kicks off a summer-long campaign to encourage families to seek out fresh, healthy, food. SNAP-Ed is partnering with participating schools to pair the book distribution with spinach tastings, recipes, planting demonstrations, classroom lessons, and farmer-in-the-classroom visits. Families are invited to attend an online kickoff event on June 9th at 7pm for a live read aloud with the book’s author, followed by a question and answer session. Throughout the market season, there will be local events at farmers’ markets, summer meal sites, and youth program sites. Families can buy, grow, cook, and taste fresh fruits and veggies, join in spinach planting demos, snap-a-selfie at a photo booth, and receive free giveaways at partner sites.

Maryland SNAP-Ed creates healthier environments and improves the health and wellbeing of families experiencing food insecurity. Improving access to healthy food is a major focus area of SNAP-Ed’s work. By partnering with farmers’ markets to increase food benefits acceptance, promoting markets to low-income families, working with food pantries to increase the availability of healthy foods, and promoting participation in childhood nutrition programs, SNAP-Ed helps families find, purchase, and prepare healthy foods on a limited budget.

According to Lisa Lachenmayr, Director of Maryland SNAP-Ed, “The pandemic called attention to food insecurity–families that struggle to put food on the table were left in challenging situations due to changes in employment and food shortages. As we recover from the pandemic, SNAP-Ed is finding new and innovative ways to connect families to sources of healthy food, and build skills that support resiliency: food resource management, gardening, and cooking. The Eat Your Words campaign brings together healthy food access with literacy through fun activities that connect school year programs to summer learning opportunities.”

Readers to Eaters, the publisher of the book, partners with SNAP-Ed and other nutrition education programs throughout the country to promote good nutrition and literacy. According to publisher and co-founder Philip Lee, “Our company mission is to promote food literacy, and we’re thrilled to partner with Maryland SNAP-Ed to connect good reads and good eats. We’re especially excited to publish a special edition of Sylvia’s Spinach to highlight the innovative Eat Your Words initiative."

All families across the state are invited to join the online kickoff event. Visit on June 9 at 7pm. Families can follow @eatsmartmd on Facebook and Instagram for updates on local events, social media challenges, and tips for accessing fresh healthy food. Additional resources for students, teachers, and families can be found at