The Farmers Market Food Navigator Program

The Farmers Market Food Navigator Program is a direct education and policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change intervention designed to increase use of farmers markets to purchase affordable produce, increase frequency of vegetables consumed by farmers market shoppers, and improve access to farmers markets through PSE initiatives. The program follows a social ecological framework and has four key components:

  • Conduct community outreach to build awareness of farmers markets and increase awareness of the food assistance programs available
  • Work with farmers market managers and vendors to implement policy, systems, and environmental changes that are supportive of healthy behaviors
  • Help shoppers effectively use their food budgets at farmers markets through tours that may include introductions to vendors, tips, and support
  • Provide resources and experiential nutrition education to shoppers at farmers markets, including tastings and cooking demonstrations

Food Navigators attend a one-day training and are equipped with a program Playbook that provides direction on how to carry out each of the four key components of their role, as well as provides guidance to farmers market managers and community partner organizations.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Food Insecurity/Food Assistance, Other: Food Resource Management

Intervention Type: Direct Education, PSE Change

The State Nutrition Action Council: Farmers Market Initiative

The State Nutrition Action Council: Farmers Market Initiative (SNAC) is policy, systems, and environmental change intervention designed to:

  • Increase knowledge of Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs available at farmers markets
  • Increase knowledge of locally grown fruits and vegetables and how to use, cook, and store them
  • Increase the use of Market Match and CalFresh redemption vouchers to support low-income shoppers in maximizing their purchasing power

In 2018, SNAC focused on increasing low-income shoppers’ utilization of their food and nutrition program benefits at local Farmers Markets, and in 2019, SNAC expanded its Farmers Market Initiative (FMI) into additional counties and markets, as well as added an on-site navigator component. The navigator model was tested at three markets, and the CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL) Navigators were found to address barriers to shopping at farmers markets, including lack of knowledge and comfort using food assistance benefits. CFHL Navigators provided support to shoppers by distributing materials, promoting accepted FNS benefits, providing information on how to use FNS benefits, explaining Market Match, and providing interactive nutrition and health education activities on-site at the market for six consecutive weeks.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Food Insecurity/Food Assistance

Intervention Type: PSE Change

Nutrition Pantry Program (NPP)

The Nutrition Pantry Program (NPP) is a PSE change intervention designed to improve the food environment and client engagement within food pantries. NPP provides training and resources to support the implementation of strategies designed to increase access and utilization of healthy food by pantry clients, engage clients, and sustain healthy practices. Implementers are encouraged to follow a four-stage process; Planning, Needs & Current Work Assessment, Implementation, and Certification & Maintenance. SNAP-Ed educators in collaboration with food pantry staff, volunteers, and other stakeholders use the NPP framework to organize and complete the intervention. Pantry Need and Readiness is assessed and supported using a validated Healthy Food Pantry Assessment, a Client Needs Assessment questionnaire, and client feedback strategies. Based on needs and input, a work plan of PSE changes is created. NPP resources are available to support a variety of PSE changes. Pantries completing the NPP process are recognized and awarded as Silver or Gold Certified Nutrition Pantries and celebrated in the community. 

Target Behavior: Healthy EatingFood Insecurity/Food Assistance  
Intervention Type: PSE Change 

Culture of Wellness in Preschools: Nutrition Education and Physical Activity (COWP NE/PA)

Culture of Wellness in Preschools: Nutrition Education and Physical Activity (COWP NE/PA) is a direct education and PSE change intervention designed to increase fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity levels in children and their parents, as well as to reduce their risk of obesity and chronic disease. In addition to providing nutrition education and physical activity in the classrooms, COWP works with Head Start Agencies and other preschool centers to identify and change school PSEs around nutrition and physical activity by working with preschool wellness teams to impact the health of the students and their families. COWP is also designed to improve the likelihood that persons eligible for SNAP will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the USDA food guidance.  

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Reducing Screen Time  
Intervention Type: Direct Education, PSE Change 

FoodCorps Healthy School Toolkit

The FoodCorps Healthy School Toolkit is a PSE change intervention designed to improve school food environments over time. The Toolkit includes a research-backed assessment tool that is used by school teams to assess healthy school food environment activities. The Toolkit also includes the Action Plan, a tool that guides school teams in setting goals and vision to improve school food environments. The Healthy School Progress Report was developed through an evaluation partnership with Columbia University’s Teachers CollegeIt assesses the school food environment across sixteen indicator areas known to contribute to healthy eating behaviors in children, spanning hands-on nutrition education, school gardening, and food preparation experience to the culture of healthy eating in the cafeteria and throughout the school’s practices. It is expected that schools actively using these tools and seeking to implement activities that support a healthy school food environment will make incremental progress on an annual basis.  

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating  
Intervention Type: PSE Change 

Start Strong: Cooking, Feeding, and More

The Start Strong: Cooking, Feeding, and More is a direct education intervention for child care providers that promotes policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change in child care settings.  The intervention is designed to help child care providers increase their knowledge and skills of providing healthy foods for children, increase their knowledge of Federal food programs (SNAP, WIC, CACFP, and School Meals), and increase their confidence in talking about Federal food programs with families who may be food insecure. Family child care providers participate in four culinary nutrition education trainings to increase the knowledge and skills needed to create a healthier food environment for young children at their child care businesses. Child care providers may care for children of low-income families, so in order to address potential food insecurity, each training includes information about a food resource such as SNAP, WIC, and School Meals. As a result of training, child care providers promote healthier eating at their child care businesses by making changes that result in providing healthier foods and a greater variety of vegetables at meal times. For successful implementation of PSE change, facilitated discussions are held as a space for child care providers to learn promising practices from each other.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating

Intervention Type: Direct Education, PSE Change

The OrganWise Guys Program (OWG)

 The OrganWise Guys Program (OWG) is a direct education and PSE change intervention designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and increase physical activity among participants, as well as facilitate PSE changes in the settings in which it is conducted. SNAP-Ed staff or trained classroom teachers provide direct education through various curriculum to youth in child-care and school settings and provide support materials for families. The WISERCISE! program provides 10-minutes of desk-side daily physical activity in the classroom. Foods of the Month helps create a healthy cafeteria environment via daily nutrition messaging and outreach to parents. The OWG gardening curriculum helps establish gardens while children learn to grow and consume homegrown food. These curriculum focus on PSE changes by working with school wellness councils to develop policies that address foods served at school events, establish school gardens, and improve and promote school meals/snacks. Partnerships and parent/adult engagement in positive health behaviors can lead to PSE change that is sustainable and beneficial community wide.

Target Behavior: Physical Activity and Reducing Screen Time, Food Insecurity/Food Assistance

Intervention Type: Direct Education, PSE Change

Heart Smarts

Heart Smarts is a direct education, PSE change, and social marketing intervention that combines healthy food access, nutrition education, and health and social services for individuals to improve their health and reduce their risk of diet-related disease. The program offers nine lessons for use in retail environments covering topics like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, sodium, sugar-sweetened beverages and making healthy choices along with nutrition-focused tip sheets. Each lesson includes taste tests, recipes, healthy food incentive coupons* and health screenings* (for blood pressure, weight checks, and healthy lifestyle counseling and referrals). Technical assistance and training is provided to site staff and storeowners to support PSE changes including healthier stores, businesses and communities.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating

Intervention Type: Direct Education, Social Marketing, PSE Change

*These Heart Smarts components (health screenings, including blood pressure and BMI; counseling and referrals; and healthy food incentive coupons help participants choose heart-healthy items at the site) are not allowable by SNAP-Ed. Heart Smarts lessons and food tastings can be used without these additional components. Screenings and coupons can be funded by grants or partnered organizations.

FoodShare

FoodShare is a PSE change intervention designed to improve food security and health outcomes through fresh food access and affordability. Every 2 weeks residents can order a Fresh Food Box using cash or SNAP/EBT. The program is a SNAP Healthy Bucks site (a state SNAP healthy incentives program), which allows SNAP recipients to receive a $10 healthy incentive to go towards the cost of their box. Each Fresh Food Box contains 12-14 varieties of culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables, always with a mix of more common items (e.g., apples) and less common items (e.g., radishes). A recipe card that is culturally relevant to participants and based on the produce in the box in a given week is also included. The program is situated within an academic medical center and community-based hospital system. A screening and referral process was created that links patients to FoodShare.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Food Insecurity/Food Assistance

Intervention Type: PSE Change

Thumbs Up for Healthy Choices in Food Pantries (Thumbs Up)

Thumbs Up for Healthy Choices in Food Pantries (Thumbs Up) is a policy, systems, and environment (PSE) change intervention designed to improve the visibility and appeal of healthy choices for pantry users, leading to an increased selection of these healthy choices. Thumbs Up utilizes low-cost nudge strategies to make healthy choices easier in pantries. Prior to implementing Thumbs Up, educators evaluate the pantry’s readiness for change by conducting a baseline assessment using the Healthy Food Pantry Assessment Tool (HFPAT). Once the baseline is established, educators work with pantries to identify areas the pantry management is interested in improving. Educators then use nutrition criteria outlined in the toolkit to identify foods that are low in sodium, added sugar, and saturated fat. At the end of a pantry’s partnership with SNAP-Ed, or the end of the fiscal year, the HFPAT is used again to track changes made to improve the visibility and appeal of healthy items.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating

Intervention Type: PSE Change