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

Senior Center Needs Assessment Toolkit

The Senior Center Needs Assessment Toolkit is a policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change intervention designed to allow SNAP-Ed partners and senior centers to assess the readiness of a senior center to make changes to nutrition and physical activity (PA) programming and assist senior centers and their partners in making evidence-based changes to the nutrition and PA policies, systems, and environment. The Toolkit consists of a needs assessment portion (sections one and two) that provides a structured way to gather information and should be completed by or with the Senior Center Director or person/people that have a strong understanding of the center. Section three can be completed by either senior center staff or a partner, such as SNAP-Ed, who may be assisting with nutrition and PA initiatives. Overall, the goal of this Toolkit is to facilitate centers to make changes that improve the health of participants through community-based prevention strategies.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Reducing Screen Time

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 

Veggie Van (VV) Toolkit

The Veggie Van (VV) Toolkit is a policy, systems, and environmental change intervention designed to:

  • Increase access to healthy, affordable fruits and vegetables in lower income and/or food insecure communities
  • Help the target population improve their diets through skill building
  • Address the interplay between the physical food environment, individual perceptions of that environment, and self-efficacy
  • Address multiple dimensions of access to fresh produce for lower-income and under-served communities, including availability, affordability, accessibility (geographic and financial), and accommodation
  • Improve self-efficacy for finding, purchasing, and preparing fruits and vegetables or other healthy foods via cooking and nutrition education interventions

VV achieves these goals via mobile farmers markets that present cooking demonstrations, recipes, taste tests, and nutrition education to help customers better use the produce they receive. VV mobile markets also accept SNAP benefits, electronic benefits (EBT), and other relevant local food incentive and benefit programs, as well as employ a bundling model in addition to a la carte purchasing. The bundling model allows the VV mobile markets to sell more items at a lower cost and expose participants to a greater variety of fruits and vegetables. Markets operate a minimum of 10 months out of the year and typically source produce locally or regionally.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Food Insecurity/Food Assistance

Intervention Type: PSE Change

PSE Readiness Assessment and Decision Instrument (PSE READI)

The PSE READI intervention was designed with guidance from SNAP-Ed and public health practitioners in Ohio to promote successful implementation of community nutrition Policy, System, and Environmental (PSE) programs as a broader strategy for obesity prevention. Practitioners can take the online PSE Readiness Assessment and Decision Instrument (READI) to assess their community’s readiness and capacity to implement community nutrition PSE changes. The PSE READI can be completed by an individual or the practitioner can invite community members to share their input in a team assessment. The four different PSE READIs currently available include: Farmers’ Markets, Healthy Food Retail, Farm to School, and Healthy Eating Policies in Childcare. After completion of your PSE READI, a report will be generated with three recommendations tailored to local community readiness and capacity. These recommendations will help practitioners and teams plan next steps and guide community nutrition PSE implementation. The PSE READI website includes a curated resource library with over 1,000 toolkits, guides, and other evidence-based PSE resources that provide guidance to help end-users put into action their community nutrition PSE implementation.  

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating  
Intervention Type: 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

Eat, Move, Win

Dairy Council of California’s Eat, Move, Win (EMW) program is a direct education intervention, which consists of five online lessons that seek to improve high school students’ awareness of their food environment and the link between food and health. The lessons are accessed online to engage high school students in reading and writing activities, game-based interactions, and teacher-facilitated discussions. The program aligns with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and encourages appropriate portions from all 5 food groups.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Reducing Screen Time

Intervention Type: Direct Education

My TIME to Eat Healthy and Move More (My TIME)

My TIME to Eat Healthy and Move More (My TIME) is a direct education intervention designed to actively engage parents and children in a co-learning process as they experience how to make healthy food choices and become more physically active. Instead of telling parents what is best for their family, My TIME offers hands-on activities to draw on their unique experiences.This facilitates an educational opportunity that encourages the learners to reflect, share, and ultimately identify goals and actions to create a healthier family. T. I. M. E. symbolizes the four core principles of the program: Together, Inspire, Motivate, and Empower. Over the course of a month, the parent and child work together with the home visitor to learn practical tips to eat healthily and move more. Taste-testing activities are used to inspire healthy eating. Simple ideas promoting daily exercise are offered to motivate parents and children to move more. Lastly, My TIME empowers families to stay connected to the goals and opportunities that they identified to improve the health of their family.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Reducing Screen Time

Intervention Type: Direct Education