Steps to Health Toolkits Become Eligible for National SNAP-ED Toolkit
Congratulations to the Steps to Health team. Three of their toolkits have been accepted for the SNAP-Ed Toolkit, making them eligible for use nationwide. They include:
- The Nuts and Bolts of a Healthy Food Pantry
- The Ingredients for a Welcoming Farmers Market
- Communities Moving Together – A Guide for Facilitating Community-Led Walk Audits
Steps to Health is North Carolina State University’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) Program. The program offers a comprehensive approach to improving health and nutrition outcomes for limited- resource people in North Carolina. First, in partnership with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, they teach nutrition education to children and adults at qualifying locations. Second, the program works to improve policies, systems, and environments (PSE) around healthy eating and active living.
The Nuts and Bolts of a Healthy Food Pantry toolkit guide nutrition security partners through a baseline assessment. The toolkit encourages pantries to think critically about which foods they offer, how food is distributed, and how they can support clients in making healthy choices. It outlines a six-step process designed to assist with data collection, analysis, and action planning. The goal of this toolkit is to support pantries so that their clients can choose healthy food items. Building a strong partnership between Extension professionals, thepantry, and its volunteers and staff provides the foundation for data collection, training, and other collaborative activities.
A baseline assessment, included in this toolkit, is quick and direct: either the pantry is implementing the healthy practice in question, or the pantry needs some improvement in that area. Once the baseline assessment is completed, the Extension professional can organize training for pantry volunteers and staff to build a shared understanding of best practices in pantries and how they can be involved in advocating for healthy choices in the pantries where they work. A follow-up assessment is provided to use around six months after the initial assessment was completed to measure effectiveness of interventions made at the site. At this point, there may be additional work to be done, and the agent can continue to support the work of the site to support nutrition security.
The Ingredients for a Welcoming Farmers Market Toolkit provides a framework for engaging with markets to address issues of healthy food access in the community. The toolkit outlines a seven-step process designed to assist the agent in guiding farmers market management with data collection, analysis, and action planning. A baseline assessment and market manager interview are included in this toolkit and helps the agents to understand in more detail how the market functions.
One of the resources in this toolkit is a Community Food Survey. This survey can be used to understand the community’s interests and preferences related to accessing fresh food and shopping at farmers markets. Based on the results of the survey, the agent may work with the farmers market to increase access to healthy food. As the agent and the Farmers Market stakeholders work together in partnership, the agent can lead training designed to prepare market stakeholders to create a welcoming and inclusive farmers market environment. In partnership, they can work together to develop an action plan, which is also included in this toolkit.
Communities Moving Together toolkit is a guide created by Steps to Health and Faithful Families Thriving Communities. This toolkit outlines six key steps to consider when working with a community plan and leading a walk audit. Conducting a walk audit can be a great start to making positive changes in the community. It gives community members an opportunity to intentionally experience how easy or difficult it may be to get around a particular area. The kit starts by gathering partners who have interest in improving community accessibility and advocating for changes to physical environment. The group should include people of all ages and abilities in the community to ensure that diverse perspectives are included in efforts to make improvements that benefit all residents.
The group is trained by the Extension Agent in partnership with community partners and champions on how to conduct a walk audit. During training, a map is created to identify specific routes to be explored. Walk Audits use a checklist or rubric to consider street characteristics and conditions, and document barriers, positive features, and personal perceptions of the physical environment. Upon completion of the Walk Audit, a debrief and plans to discuss possible solutions are noted. The experience may encourage community leaders or policymakers to consider what improvements may be possible and inspire the community to identify areas where changes are needed.