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

Text2LiveHealthy

The Text2LiveHealthy (T2LH) intervention is a direct education and social marketing intervention designed to increase family consumption of fruits and vegetables, increase physical activity among the entire family, and increase family consumption of water while decreasing consumption of sugary beverages. T2LH is a nutrition and physical activity digital health outreach effort that links the Integrated Nutrition Education Program (INEP) and Culture of Wellness in Preschools (COWP) youth education provided in classrooms to homes via text messaging, in order to influence behavior change for economically disadvantaged families across Colorado. There are four text message cycles in Year 1 with each cycle containing approximately 30 core texts that address the following themes: fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity and sedentary behaviors, sugar-sweetened beverages, and water consumption. Each cycle contains approximately seven to eight core messages and two to three evaluation messages. In general, the messages are easy to use and include goal-setting for healthy behavior change, fun and easy recipes, family-friendly physical activity ideas, motivational messages, and links to resources. In Year 2, participants receive one text per week with a focus on maintaining behavior changes. 

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Reducing Screen Time, Food Insecurity/Food Assistance  
Intervention Type: Direct Education, Social Marketing 

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

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

UCONN Husky Nutrition On-the-Go, Sugary Drink Reduction (SDR)

Husky Nutrition On-the-Go: Sugary Drink Reduction (SDR) is a direct education intervention designed to reduce sugary drink consumption among three to five-year-old children enrolled in early childhood education (ECE) programs by changing primary caregiver knowledge, motivation, and behaviors. SDR is a 10-week, brief interaction program developed for implementation during child pick-up times at ECE programs located in SNAP-Ed eligible communities. The curriculum includes 10 nutrition education modules centered around eight discrete messages about the information, motivation, or skills needed to understand why and how to decrease sugary drink consumption in a child’s diet. Each week, the parent encounters an activity to apply knowledge and skills learned at a display board, repetition of a targeted message for the week, informational handouts, and a gift to reinforce that message.  A series of short videos that reinforce SDR messages has also been developed for social media. Each week of the program, students enrolled in a university service-learning course set up the weekly display board at participating ECE centers and greet parents when they pick up their children.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating

Intervention Type: Direct Education

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.

Illinois Junior Chefs

Illinois Junior Chefs (IJC) is a direct education curriculum designed to improve dietary attitudes and behaviors in youth ages 8-13 through learning hands-on cooking skills and MyPlate food group education. IJC is a 10-hour cooking education program designed for five two-hour classes. Each class focuses on a food group and related cooking skills. Recipes provided let participants practice specific cooking skills for preparation of foods for the food group highlighted in each lesson. A variety of recipes are included in the curriculum as well as additional resource links for supplemental recipes. Recipe selection should be based on age-appropriate cooking tasks for the participants and culturally appropriate recipes for diverse audiences. Participants are recruited through eligible schools and community agencies. Eligible participants attend IJC classes at sites having access to running water and electricity for the purpose of hand washing, food safety, and preparing recipes that need cooking.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Other: Cooking Skills

Intervention Type: Direct Education

Mind, Exercise, Nutrition…Do It! (MEND)

Mind, Exercise, Nutrition…Do it! (MEND) program is a direct education intervention designed to manage overweight, obesity in children 2-13 years old and their families by improving health, fitness, and self-esteem. The MEND programs combine physical activity, healthy eating, and behavior change to facilitate safe, effective weight management and lasting changes in lifestyle. Programs run for 10 weeks and the child and at least one parent or primary caregiver must attend. MEND programs help families in the following areas: 

● Mind – improving children’s self-esteem and supporting families to change their behaviors around eating and activity 

● Exercise – engaging in regular physical activity that is fun 

● Nutrition – learning about good nutrition and healthy eating 

● Do it! – taking action to make healthy lifestyle changes long term 

The newest program, Healthy Together, for children ages 6–13 years and their families, is based on MEND 7-13 but with simplified delivery and focus on critical content. Healthy Together can be delivered by one person and is ideal for smaller groups and spaces. 

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

Intervention Type: Direct Education

Food Talk: Better U

The Food Talk: Better U (FTBU) curriculum is a direct nutrition education and obesity prevention curriculum taught by paraprofessionals in a classroom setting and focuses on healthy weight management tailored for SNAP-Ed eligible adult Georgians. FTBU includes both nutrition and physical activity (PA) components as weight management and obesity prevention strategies and helps participants increase portion control, decrease intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, make small healthy “shifts” in everyday food choices, and increase PA consistent with the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, MyPlate guidance, and 2018 PA Guidelines for Americans. The curriculum is comprised of a series of four, 90-minute direct education classes that include the following elements: interactive learning activities, interactive sharing among participants, guided PA, cooking demonstrations and recipe tastings, goal setting, and food and/or PA tracking homework.

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

Intervention Type: Direct Education