Pennsylvania Success Stories

Heart Smarts

This article was submitted by The Food Trust, a SNAP-Ed agency.

Three years ago, Troy used to go his local corner store to grab a soda and a bag of chips. Today, when he visits that same corner store in North Philadelphia he chooses an orange and a bottle of water.

man talking to nutrition educator

Through the SNAP-Ed Heart Smarts program, Troy goes to his local corner store to meet with a nutrition educator. He also receives free blood pressure checks from local health care providers. He’s been getting checks on a monthly basis for the past three years. “Since you [program staff] started coming,” Troy says, “my blood pressure and diet have been better. I’m eating healthier and drinking more water.”

woman having her blood pressure taken

In communities that lack supermarkets, many residents turn to local corner stores to meet their food needs. The Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative began in 2004 to increase the availability of healthy foods in corner stores. The program also wanted people to learn what healthy foods are available. In 2010, the Heart Smarts program started doing nutrition education and health screenings in local corner stores.

woman talking to nutrition educator

The Heart Smarts program works with corner store owners to make sure they stock a variety of heart-healthy products. Customers can take part in a SNAP-Ed nutrition lesson in the corner store. Then, customers can also have their blood pressure checked by local health care partners.

nutrition education materials

Last year, Heart Smarts reached 5,000 participants in 50 corner stores. Among 497 people surveyed, 89% agreed with the statement “After today’s lesson, I feel like I know how to make healthy food or drink choices.”

William, one Heart Smarts participant, recalls: “This is a great thing for the community. For a lot of older folks, it’s hard to get to the doctor. Not only is coming to the corner store easy, but now it’s great for our health.”

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Pennsylvania Nutrition TRACKS program logo 4th Grade Vegetable Core

This article was submitted by the Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Tracks

Developed to address low vegetable intake levels seen in statewide needs assessment data, the Fourth Grade Vegetable Core intervention includes four lessons with food-tastings, activities, and messaging focused on improving mediators of behavior change (attitude, self-efficacy, preference, and knowledge). Lessons from existing materials were compiled and repurposed to create a standardized, classroom-based series to be delivered over a three to five week time period by local partner agencies. Lessons aligned with State academic standards.

Type of Program
Classroom based intervention for school students

Years of Implementation
Impact evaluation conducted Fall 2008 and Fall 2009. The curriculum has been on our approved education materials list FY09-current (FY16).

Number of Participants
Approximately 11,125 students participated in this intervention from School Year 2008/2009 through School Year 2014/2015.

Target Audience
The intervention was designed for fourth grade students in SNAP-Ed eligible schools.

Program Evaluation
An impact study (1) was conducted with a sample of more than 1,900 fourth grade students participating in PA SNAP-Ed in Fall 2008 and Fall 2009 with classrooms randomized into control (68 classrooms) or intervention (72 classrooms) groups. Local partners selected one classroom of fourth grade students from each school.

An evaluation tool, tested for reliability and validity and comprised of two attitude items, two self-efficacy items, a 10-item food preference scale, and five knowledge questions, was administered as a pre-test and post- test.

Food preference, attitude, and self-efficacy items developed for SNAP-Ed intervention (Cooking with Kids) in New Mexico were used with permission and modified to align with lesson content. Knowledge items were created to assess key messages from the lessons.

The evaluation tool was administered at start of the first lesson for intervention classrooms; an identical post-test was administered at end of the fourth lesson. Control classrooms completed the survey at two time points with no intervening vegetable-related SNAP-Ed intervention.

1) Wall DE, Least C, Gromis J, Lohse B: Nutrition education intervention improves vegetable-related attitude, self-efficacy, preference, and knowledge of fourth-grade students. J Sch Health; 2012 Jan;82(1):37-43.

Statistics and Program Impact
Each survey (attitude, self-efficacy, preference, knowledge) was examined separately. Pre-post score change was significantly different (p<0.001) between control and intervention groups for all surveys. The intervention resulted in a significant improvement in attitude, self-efficacy, preference and knowledge scores (p<0.001).

For further information please contact Denise E. Wall, MPH, RD TRACKS Assistant Project Director. All logos are used with permission.