California Success Stories

Ready Set Swim!

Submitted by the California Department of Public Health, a SNAP-Ed State Agency.

The “Ready, Set, Swim” program is a fun and innovative way to combine physical activity, nutrition education, and water safety all in one.

The abundance of pools in the Coachella Valley, along with countless child drownings and near drownings, prompted several local organizations to come together. They developed a program to provide children with lifelong water safety skills, and promote good nutrition and physical activity.

With the help of the City of Palm Springs and the Desert Healthcare Foundation, funds were raised to implement the program. Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD), Desert Recreation District, the Boys and Girls Club of Coachella Valley, and Boys and Girls Club of Palm Springs, provided essential components. They provided transportation, swim instructors and facilities to make this collective partnership function seamlessly. Student and adult nutrition education was provided using SNAP-Ed materials developed by the California Department of Public Health.

The “Ready, Set, Swim” program is aimed at third graders. It is designed as an eight-day afterschool program hosted at local Boys and Girls Clubs and pools. Children attend two hours a day over the course of two weeks: one hour focused on swimming skills and physical activity, and the second hour focused on nutrition education.

children in a swimming pool

During the two-week sessions, children and family members participated in a wealth of nutrition activities, including

    • ReThink Your Drink (RYD)
    • Harvest of the Month
    • PowerPlay
    • MyPlate with taste tests of various fruits and vegetables.

At the program graduation, a parent component of a RYD class was offered in English and Spanish.

The “Ready, Set, Swim” program graduated a total of 441 children during its initial year. The success of the “Ready, Set, Swim” program caught the attention of local media, and was featured in local television news and newspapers. Nominated by the Riverside University Health System - Public Health, the program was featured in a success story video produced by the University of California San Diego Center for Community Health and Lan Media Productions. View the video by visiting the link below:

Future plans for the program are very promising. Local organizations and the PSUSD have committed to support the program indefinitely. They are seeking potential partners and funding to expand the program to the other schools and community pools throughout the Coachella Valley. Future plans include water safety classes for parents from trained personnel such as emergency first responders and the Injury Prevention Program.

Program Success
The Ready, Set, Swim program has graduated a total of 1,872 students in 3 years.

    • 85% of students demonstrated an increase of at least 5 new skills in their assigned level, from pre to post test.
    • 93% of the students demonstrated an increase of at least 3 new skills in their assigned level, from pre to post test.

As of June 2017, 14 desert-area elementary schools have participated in the Ready, Set, Swim program.

children watching a nutrition educator

Type of Program
Physical Activity Promotion and Nutrition Education

Years of Implementation
The first year was 2014/15, for elementary schools in Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs.
In 2015/16, the program expanded to include schools in Cathedral City.
2016/17 was the third year of implementation, in all three cities.

Number of Participants
2014/15: 441 students
2015/16: 709 students
2016/17: 722 students

Target Audience
Third grade students from SNAP-Ed eligible schools in the Palm Springs Unified School District.

Program Evaluation
Each participating 3rd grade student is given a swim skills pre-test at the beginning of their 8-day class for group assignment to Level 1, 2 or 3 (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced). At the end of the 8-day program, a post-test is administered to measure their improvement. The pre/post test and swimming instruction is based on the American Red Cross’: Learn-to-Swim program, an evidence-based curriculum.

For further information please contact: Alejandro Espinoza or 760-323-6166.


Children’s Farmers Market by the Food Bank of San Luis Obispo County

This article was written and submitted by the California Department of Public Health, a SNAP-Ed Implementing Agency.

There are many families in San Luis Obispo County who lack adequate access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County (SLO Food Bank) set out to help. SLO Food Bank started the “Children’s Farmers Market Program” ( This program gives locally grown donated produce to children from low-income families

table with boxes of produce on it

A farmers market for children
The vision was to create an environment much like a Farmers Market, allowing children to select from a variety of fruits and vegetables to take home to share with their families. SLO Food Bank introduced “Food Bank Bucks”, which serve as play money, to simulate a shopping experience.

Nutrition Educators teach children the benefit of choosing healthy foods from local farmers and provide recipe samples for children attending the markets. Students can learn at an early age the benefits of a nutritious diet and share this information with their families.

Positive feedback
The amount of positive feedback received from families, school staff and administrators, and students has been overwhelming. Parents report that children are more willing to try new fruits and vegetables and that their children show increased interest in cooking or food preparation at home.

table with boxes of produce on it

Two thousand children served
The SLO Food Bank Children's Farmers Market Program has been highly successful. It

    • Provides children and their families with nutritious food
    • Improves the school and home environments
    • Reduces agricultural waste
    • Reinforces health education messages

The program has grown considerably since it was first introduced in 2014. In its first full year of full operation, the Children’s Farmers Markets served approximately 1235 children at 111 school sites and events throughout the county.

In 2016, SLO Food Bank held 19 Children’s Farmers Market sites on a set monthly basis spanning over the course of the school calendar year. They held 197 total markets that served an estimated 2287 children. The children were enrolled in after school and summer school programs.

SLO Food Bank will continue to develop and grow this program in their mission to alleviate hunger and build a healthier community.

For more information, please contact Melissa Danehey at or (805) 238-4664.


High School Mini Farm Stand Project

This article was written and submitted by the California Department of Public Health, a SNAP-Ed Implementing Agency. The National Health Foundation partners with the California Department of Public Health to implement SNAP-Ed programming.

Thomas Jefferson High School in South Los Angeles has Health Academy Mini Farm Stands thanks to a great idea from the students. Lots of kids miss Breakfast in the Classroom. Now, teachers encourage hungry kids to choose a healthy snack from the Health Academy Mini Farm Stand basket.

How it started
In 2014, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) implemented the Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program in all schools. The BIC program was a unique opportunity for all students to receive free breakfast. Less than 40% of students, however, were participating in the BIC program. A number of factors contribute to these low participation rates. Two reasons for this is the students’ late arrival to school causing them to miss BIC, as well as students choosing to eat unhealthy food.

a bunch of teens standing behind baskets of fruit

The Legion of Health student team idea
The National Health Foundation (NHF) partnered with Thomas Jefferson High School (TJHS) in South Los Angeles to implement a Health Academy program ( The program, comprised of 38 TJHS students, allowed youth to participate in one of four teams in a youth-led research project of their choice.

The Legion of Health team wanted to do two things:

    • Decrease food waste
    • Increase access to healthy snacks

They had the idea to do this by using the surplus fruit and non-perishable food items from the BIC program for their “Health Academy Mini Farm Stand” pilot project.

a chalk board with health words written all over it

The Mini Farm Stand
The students leading the project recruited teachers to assist with pilot testing the project in a few classrooms. They asked teachers to encourage students to select a healthy snack from the farm stand basket when they were hungry. The teachers also managed a tracking system within each classroom to capture the results.

The students had plenty of school support. The TJHS Cafeteria Manager helped the students capture data and helped them draft a pilot plan. The TJHS Assistant Principal provided initial school support for the project. The Assistant Principal also supported the Legion of Health team’s advocacy efforts for schoolwide implementation the following year.

a basket of apples

Project success
Health Academy Mini Farm Stands have been implemented schoolwide at TJHS. They are also at a neighboring high school, Nava College Preparatory Academy. The success of the pilot project has garnered attention from LAUSD’s Food Services Director. The Director has expressed interest in bringing this to the LAUSD school board to expand the pilot to additional schools. The Legion of Health team plans to advocate for LAUSD district-wide expansion after meeting with the LAUSD School Board.

For more information, please contact Julie Tolentino at or


eat fresh logo

This article was written and submitted by Leah's Pantry & San Francisco County Human Services Agency. is a USDA-approved recipe and healthy living website available in English, Spanish, and Chinese. It features 400+ culturally-competent, low cost recipes; food discovery pages; healthy messaging pages; Ask a Dietitian; and county resources.

Type of Program
Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) intervention

Years of Program Implementation

Number of Participants
There have been 65,464 unique visitors since launch on 9/30/2013. Eighty percent (53,894) of those visitors are from California.

Target Audience
CalFresh eligible and enrolled individuals and families

Program Evaluation
An impact evaluation on knowledge, attitude, and behavior (KAB) change was conducted from 11/2013-10/2014. No dose-response relationship was found but it did show significant differences in KAB between users and nonusers.

Statistics and Program Impact
71% of users who are enrolled in CalFresh or another means-tested program have not attended in-person nutrition education classes. This suggests that is reaching people who would not have access to SNAP-Ed programming otherwise. has been integrated into county offices, community-based organizations, food banks, and other agencies across California as a way to support clients in making healthy choices outside of in-person programming.

For further information please contact Jessica Silldorff, Sr. Program Coordinator -, Leah's Pantry. All logos are used with permission.