Part of the SNAP-Ed Strategies & Interventions Toolkit.*
VeggieBook is a mobile app for Android and iOS smartphones.
VeggieBook is a social marketing and direct education intervention app that is designed to help users choose customized recipes and healthy eating tips which ultimately lead to increased vegetable-based preparation for meals at home. The app invites a user to create a new VeggieBook or SecretsBook. VeggieBooks are sets of recipes, each set built around 1 of 10 vegetables. A series of questions posed by the app helps users select recipes and food preparation tips of interest. Recipes use simple ingredients most households have and have been tested for user-appeal. SecretsBooks are 5 sets of illustrated ideas about food use and acquisition–Secrets to Better Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners, Snacks, and Shopping. The app’s emphasis on users’ choices promotes just-in-time learning.
In previous deployments of VeggieBook, while the app builders studied its effectiveness with low-income users, the app was freely available for users’ downloading from the Play Store and the Apple Store. Starting in early 2021, however, the builders of VeggieBook withdrew its version of the app from these stores. Instead, the app code and documentation in their entirety have been made available in Open Source at https://github.com/VeggieBookOpenSource. This means that any entity, including a SNAP-Ed program, can adapt the app in any way that it wishes, without a license, fee, or permission. For example, an organization could incorporate its own brand identification into the app, change or add content such as recipes and Secrets, or alter functionality. The organization would then submit its own version of VeggieBook for inclusion on the Play Store and Apple Store. An adapting organization would also be able to make use of VeggieBook’s analytics function.
The VeggieBook developers are available for free consultations about how best to incorporate the app in a community organization’s activities. See Additional Information below.
Extensive formative research with pantry clients shaped the app’s content and navigational features. The app’s effectiveness in yielding improved outcomes among pantry clients was gauged with a randomized controlled trial with nearly 300 households. This study found that food pantry clients using VeggieBook began preparing 38% more vegetable servings compared to control clients. Other evaluation shows that 66% of cooks who used VeggieBook reported gaining confidence in performing kitchen tasks compared to 4% of control cooks. VeggieBook has also been shown to increase children’s (age 9-14 years) participation in preparing household meals. VeggieBook is endorsed by a nurse practitioner and the app’s advisory board of pantry clients.
Evaluation materials are available by request. Examples of evaluation materials are found in the following publications:
- Indigenous Message Tailoring Increases Consumption of Fresh Vegetables by Clients of Community Pantries
- Information design to promote better nutrition among pantry clients: four methods of formative evaluation
- Resolving design issues in developing a nutrition app: A case study using formative research
- Mobile app increases vegetable-based preparations by low-income household cooks: A randomized controlled trial
VeggieBook’s developers are on the faculty at the University of Southern California at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism whose website includes information on the University of Southern California – Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism including academic programs, faculty, and research. The University of Southern California’s website can be accessed with this link. A demonstration of the app can be found in this video.
*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.