Haynes-Maslow, L.; Osborne, I.; Pitts, S.J.
Purpose: To better understand the barriers to implementing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) direct education programming in rural communities, as well as strategies to overcome these barriers. This includes (1) barriers to implementing direct education in rural communities, and (2) facilitators to overcoming direct-education barriers in rural communities. Design: This was a qualitative study that included in-depth interviews. Setting: Fifteen states across all 7 SNAP-Ed regions. Participants: Participants were eligible if they (1) were SNAP-Ed staff who were involved with implementing programs; (2) implemented at least 50% of their programming in rural communities, and (3) worked in their role for at least 12 months. Twenty-seven (n = 27) staff participated in interviews. Measures: Online surveys ascertained if participants were interested in participating in a 60-minute interview about implementing SNAP-Ed in rural communities. Interviews were semistructured and focused on the barriers and facilitators to implementing SNAP-Ed direct-education nutrition programming in rural areas. Analysis: Qualitative interviews were analyzed using content analysis in Atlas.ti. Results: Barriers to implementing direct education in rural communities included lack of healthy food and physical activity infrastructure to reinforce messages taught in class, funding restrictions, transportation for SNAP-Ed staff and the perception that this was also a problem for participants, and SNAP-Ed staff being seen as “outsiders” (not from the community). Facilitators included partnering with other organizations to increase recruitment and retention of SNAP-Ed participants, buy-in from local leaders, and SNAP-Ed staff being from the community. Conclusion: Partnerships between SNAP-Ed programs and non-SNAP-Ed organizations were essential in helping to recruit and retain participants. The SNAP-Ed staff should get buy-in from local leaders before starting direct-education programming. The SNAP-Ed programs should explore innovative delivery modalities including online and text messaging due to transportation issues in widespread rural geographies. Lastly, more work should be done to complement SNAP-Ed direct education with policy, systems, and environmental change initiatives. © The Author(s) 2019.