Steps to Health’s Nuts and Bolts of a Healthy Food Pantry

The Nuts and Bolts of a Health Food Pantry Toolkit is a direct education and PSE change intervention that is designed to support pantries in improving the food environment so their clients can choose healthy food and beverage items. The components of the Toolkit include a resource guide, baseline and follow-up assessments to explore opportunities for PSE, training modules for food pantry staff and volunteers, action planning tools for sustaining PSE changes, and promotional materials, such as signage and “nudge” cards to influence healthy choices. The Toolkit equips partners to share best practices when collaborating with food pantries.  

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Food Insecurity/Food Assistance  

Intervention Type: Direct Education, PSE Change 

Steps to Health’s PSE Toolkit: The Ingredients for a Welcoming Farmers Market

The Ingredients for a Welcoming Farmers Market Toolkit is a PSE change intervention that uses best practices to contribute to a more welcoming farmers market environment for all community members. The Toolkit outlines a 7-step process designed to assist with data collection, analysis, and action planning. The baseline assessment determines whether the market is implementing the healthy practice in question or if the market needs some improvement in that area. The resource guide helps staff better understand why questions are included in the assessment, and how the market can improve its practices related to each question. Using the Community Food Survey included in the Toolkit, staff collect responses from community members to better understand why individuals might not attend the farmer’s market or what foods they might be interested in buying at the market.  

Target Behavior: Food Insecurity/Food Assistance 

Intervention Type: PSE Change 

Supporting Wellness at Pantries (SWAP) using the HER Nutrition Guidelines for the Charitable Food System

Supporting Wellness at Pantries (SWAP) is a PSE intervention designed to promote the donation and selection of nutritious foods throughout the charitable food system. The program is based on the theory that categorizing food using simple, intuitive labels and communicating this information at each decision point while food travels through the system (donor, food bank, food pantry, & client) has the potential to transform the policy, systems, and environment of food banks and food pantries. SWAP consists of a suite of tools for food banks and food pantries to rank their inventory using a traffic light nutrition system. SWAP was developed in 2016 and revised in 2020 to align with and use the Healthy Eating Research (HER) Nutrition Guidelines for the Charitable Food System. These guidelines place foods into 11 categories and assign green=choose often; yellow=choose sometimes; and red=choose rarely based on levels of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. SWAP can be used as an intervention in multiple levels of the charitable food system to promote food justice and health equity. 

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Food Insecurity/Food Assistance 

Intervention Type: PSE Change 

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.
  • Increase state and local partnerships of FNS funded programs to support a welcoming market environment that accepts multiple FNS food benefits. 

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. The FMI has continued to expand into new counties in California since 2019 and increases in food benefit redemptions at FMI markets has sustained. 

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

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. In Year 3, participants receive weekly messages that focus on mindful eating, stress reduction and living an active lifestyle. In addition to the intervention messages, participants receive thematic messages based on the time of year as well as local messages for resources, for example farmer’s markets and Double Up Food Bucks and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). 

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

Nutrition Pantry Program (NPP)

The Nutrition Pantry Program (NPP) is a trauma-informed PSE change intervention designed to improve the food environment and client engagement within food pantries and other charitable distribution environments. NPP provides training and resources to support the implementation of strategies for increasing access and utilization of healthy food by pantry clients, increasing engagement of clients and other stakeholders, and sustaining healthy changes over time. Implementers are encouraged to follow a four-stage process; Planning, Needs & Current Work Assessment, Implementation, and Certification & Maintenance. SNAP-Ed implementers work in collaboration with food pantry staff, volunteers, and other stakeholders to use the NPP framework and resources 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 Bronze, 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

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

Child Health Initiative for Lifelong Eating and Exercise (CHILE) Plus

The Child Health Initiative for Lifelong Eating and Exercise (CHILE) Plus is a multi-component nutrition and physical activity education program for preschool age children and their families. CHILE Plus is the dissemination project of CHILE, a randomized control trial conducted by the University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center (UNM PRC). CHILE Plus is based on the socioecological model and includes 6 components that fit into this model: the classroom curriculum, staff professional development, food service, family engagement, grocery store collaboration, and partnership with local health care providers and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program providers.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Reducing Screen Time, Food Insecurity/Food Assistance

Intervention Type: Direct Education, PSE Change