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

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

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 

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 

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

10 Tips for Adults

10 Tips for Adults (10 Tips) is a multi-level direct education intervention designed to reinforce messages related to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, increasing physical activity, consuming more water, and providing SNAP eligible adults with the skills to purchase healthy foods on a budget. The curriculum can be used in a variety of community-based settings frequented by SNAP eligible adults that complement and reinforce PSE interventions such as community gardens, healthy retail, worksite wellness, and healthcare clinical community linkages. The curriculum was designed to be implemented by qualified, professional Nutrition Educators and includes two distinct, but complementary, four-session series: Series A: Choosing MyPlate and Series B: Eating Better on a Budget. 10 Tips works to increase participants’ perceptions of the importance of a healthy diet and decrease their perceived barriers to shopping, cooking, and eating healthy on a budget. Each session includes a recipe demonstration and tasting to introduce participants to new healthy foods and simple cooking techniques to reduce perceived barriers to preparing healthy foods. 

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Reducing Screen Time, Other: Budget-savvy shopping strategies   
Intervention Type: Direct Education 

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

Cooking Matters for Healthcare Partners (CMHP)

Cooking Matters for Healthcare Partners (CMHP) is a direct education and policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change intervention designed to increase participant consumption of fruits and vegetables by 15% based on the pre-post program surveys, increase participant access to direct nutrition education, and link SNAP/WIC eligible individuals to preventative community health interventions. To achieve these goals, the program couples the evidence-based Cooking Matters for Adults (CMA) curriculum with produce distribution at the end of each class so that participants can practice their cooking skills at home. For six months after completing the CMA class, participants have monthly nutrition education sessions with clinic nutritionists and redeem their produce via voucher redemption at Fresh MARTA Markets. Overall, the program increases access to direct nutrition education and produce in locations where SNAP/WIC eligible individuals seek health services, in order to change participant behaviors relating to fruit and vegetable consumption and food resource management.

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

Intervention Type: Direct Education, PSE Change