Part of the SNAP-Ed Strategies & Interventions Toolkit.*
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.
In order to evaluate the program, Food Navigators completed logs for each day they were in the market, and this revealed where Food Navigators needed more support on understanding and implementing program components. Additionally, shopper surveys verified the types of interactions they had with Food Navigators and identified the additional resources/interactions they desired. Market manager surveys similarly helped confirm the types of activities Food Navigators were conducting in markets, as well as understand their suggestions for program revision and potential impact. Vendor surveys described the frequency and types of interactions vendors had with food navigators and their perceptions of program impact. Additionally, the Public Health Institute operated as the external program evaluator from 2016-2019 during the development and testing phases to reduce bias and gain additional insight. Overall, outcomes aligned with program objectives and the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework. Specifically, after interacting with the Food Navigator, shoppers (n=762) reported intentions to: shop at a farmers market (70%), eat a variety of vegetables (50%), eat more vegetables (47%), buy more vegetables (45%), and eat new vegetables (38%). Among shoppers surveyed who interacted with the Food Navigator more than one time (n=133), 29% reported a higher frequency of vegetable consumption between their first and last survey. Shoppers at intervention farmers markets (n=122) were statistically significantly more confident in using their food assistance benefits (p=0.04) and talking to vendors (p=0.03) than shoppers at comparison markets (n=57). Overall, outcomes are aligned with program objectives and the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework.
*SNAP-Ed Strategies & Interventions: An Obesity Prevention Toolkit for States is a compilation of interventions. The toolkit was developed by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, The Association of SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education Administrators (ASNNA), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Center for Training and Research Translation (Center TRT), and the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the USDA. It is designed and updated to help state SNAP-Ed administrative and implementing agencies identify evidence-based obesity prevention programs and policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) strategies and interventions to include in their SNAP-Ed plans.