Eat Smart in Parks (ESIP)

University of Missouri Extension-Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition


Eat Smart in Parks (ESIP) is a PSE change and social marketing intervention designed to promote healthier eating in Missouri’s state and local parks. The effort includes the development of a model ESIP policy that guides parks in serving healthier options, training for state and local parks to assist them with using the guidelines, and materials to promote healthier items.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating

Intervention Type: PSE Change, Social Marketing

Intervention Reach and Adoption

To date, parks in Eldon, Independence, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Liberty, Moberly, Odessa, O’Fallon, Sedalia, and West Plains have 12 parks that have participated in the ESIP program since 2011. Over 1,200 customers have been surveyed to gauge interest in healthy foods. Many Missouri parks already eating smart actively participated in the ESIP program, while other parks have taken elements of ESIP to apply on their own. In each case, parks are given the tools and resources they need to succeed, and there are no mandates or costs to participate in the program.

Setting: Community

Target Audience: All

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

The ESIP provides toolkit and resources to promote healthier eating in Missouri’s state and local parks. ESIP participants can receive free assistance with a variety of activities including:

  • Customer research and tailored reports
  • Menu analysis
  • Taste tests
  • Healthy product identification and sourcing
  • Contract assistance
  • Marketing materials
  • Healthy food incentive ideas

Intervention Materials

The University of Missouri Extension, the Department of Natural Resources, the Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and the Missouri Parks and Recreation Association collaborated to develop and refine the Eat Smart in Parks guide. The guide is one part of a project that encourages choice as a way to incorporate healthy foods. Included in this guide are model nutrition guidelines that reflect some of the best information from leading health organizations, including the Institute for Medicine and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. ESIP developed nutrition policies for park service concessions, based on the CDC food service guidelines and the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Intervention Costs

Materials available at no cost.

Evidence Summary

At multiple parks:

  • Low fat dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables were added to the concession menus.
  • Healthy items on the concession menus were priced at equal or lower prices than less healthy foods.
  • Healthy concessions promotion improved through increased quantities of appealing signage.

At a Kansas City metro park:

  • The percent of concession food items that meet the Eat Smart in Parks nutrition guidelines increased from 23% to 32%.
  • Water bottle filling stations were installed at the concession stands which increased patrons’ access to free drinking water. Previously, free water was provided in jugs only to athletes and only when they participated in their game.

At rural park complexes:

  • The percent of concession food items at that meet the Eat Smart in Parks nutrition guidelines at one park increased from7% to 23%.
  • An employee incentive program that provided gift cards to concession employees that sold the most healthy items was piloted in one park system.

Classification: Emerging

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Readiness and Capacity – Short Term (ST) Changes – Medium Term (MT) Effectiveness and Maintenance – Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Environmental Settings ST7 MT5 LT5
Sectors of Influence ST8 MT7, MT12

Evaluation Materials

The Eat Smart in Parks Toolkit 3.0 includes a menu analysis, evaluation tools and implementation materials. The Toolkit can be found on the Eat Smart in Parks website at:

Additional Information

Website: The Eat Smart in Parks website ( includes the ESIP Toolkit, resources, and news coverage on the program.

Contact Person(s):
Jollyn Tyryfter
Assistant Extension Professor, University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-2399


*Updated as of August 28, 2023