USDA releases new guide for SNAP-Ed evaluation
June 16, 2016
Since 2012, NCCOR has worked with USDA to promote evidence-based and actionable tools consistent with the context and policies of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
SNAP-Education (SNAP-Ed), the nutrition education and obesity prevention arm of the SNAP, aims to increase the likelihood that SNAP-Ed eligible households will make healthy diet and physical activity choices within a limited budget. SNAP-Ed is central to USDA efforts to improve nutrition and prevent or reduce diet-related disease and obesity among SNAP recipients. As a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, changes in policies, systems, and environments (PSEs) were to be layered with direct nutrition education and marketing to enable, promote, and support healthy behaviors among low-income people and their communities.
States that are now implementing comprehensive programs with direct education, social marketing, and PSE changes do not have an established or streamlined mechanism to evaluate program effectiveness and report results to funders. Working together, NCCOR, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), the Association of SNAP Nutrition Education Administrators (ASNNA), and more than 28 states, contributed and developed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP‐Ed) Evaluation Framework: Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Prevention Indicators.
The evaluation framework is an effort that began in 2013 by the USDA/FNS Western Regional Office, was updated in 2014, and finalized at the national level in 2016. The evaluation framework includes a focused menu of 51 evaluation indicators that align with the SNAP‐Ed guiding principles and lend support to documenting changes resulting from multiple approaches for low-income nutrition education and obesity prevention. These approaches include individual, group, and family nutrition education and physical activity promotion and related interventions; comprehensive, multi‐level interventions in environmental settings; and community and public health approaches that reach a large segment of the population.
Presented in a logic model format, the framework has excellent potential for informing multi-year planning and evaluation when State SNAP Agencies and providers select short-term (ST), medium-term (MT), long-term (LT), and population-results (R) indicators that are related to each other through time. Practitioners can use the framework to identify indicators of success and inform program improvements when implementing multi-component programs with a focus on social marketing or PSE interventions included in the SNAP-Ed Strategies and Interventions: An Obesity Prevention Toolkit for States, as well as when reporting PSE changes and evaluating obesity prevention potential for interventions not yet included in the toolkit.
The interpretive guide to the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework identifies and explains the indicators, outcome measures, and preferred methodologies for tracking success and developing state- and local-level SNAP‐Ed objectives and reporting program evaluation to FNS, other funders, and program stakeholders. The framework offers invaluable benefits to program implementers by offering a roadmap that monitors program effectiveness, informs continuous program improvement, and generates a consistent set of program outcomes of interest to stakeholders and funders, including Congress.