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Empowering Healthy Choices in Schools, Homes and Communities: Community Initiative

Oct 31, 2018

Community Initiative

HealthMPowers helps communities change their culture. The communities change to support healthy lifestyle choices. In 2016-2017, the Community Initiative expanded into 14 food outlets. The food outlets were located in 3 low income counties: Baldwin (Milledgeville), Washington (Sandersville) and Savannah-Chatham (Savannah). There are 32,024 adults in those communities who are eligible for SNAP. The goals of the Community Initiative were to: 

  • Increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables at local food outlets
  • Establish common social marketing messages to use in stores 
  • Increase the purchasing and consumption of fruits and vegetables 

“HealthMPowers is committed to creating healthier environments to improve nutrition and physical activity behaviors. Our community work engages existing coalitions, food outlets and local leaders in promoting these healthy choices.” - Suzanne Glenn

Be a Health Hero: EAT, DRINK, MOVE social marketing campaign

Community members and HealthMPowers created this social marketing campaign. They wanted to spread health messages in a way that would reach their neighbors. They used the following tools to promote the message: billboards, posters, food retail window clings, banners, purchase prompts, shopping tote bags, and store signage. All of the tools promoted the following messages.

EAT

Three Vegetables + Two Fruits

DRINK

More Water + Less Sugary Drinks

MOVE

One Hour + Limit Screen Time

Within one year, positive change was evident. “Our store now has healthy promotional signage and we are selling fresh produce including apples, bananas and oranges for our customers… and they are buying them!” - Store Manager of Milledge Foods and Gas

Taste Testings Influence Customer’s Health Habits

In addition to health messages, customers have monthly taste testings. Community Engagement specialists conduct taste testings in stores. One store regular is Henry Hokey. He works at the car repair shop located across the street from Milledge Foods and Gas. He came through the store for taste testings on several occasions. Henry used to stop by the store several times a day to buy a soda and a snack. Over time, he talked with the HealthMPowers’ Specialist during taste tests. He learned why some foods are more healthy than other foods. Based on what he knows now, Henry has started choosing water as his drink of choice! 

Evaluation

HealthMPowers surveyed 283 customers to conduct an evaluation of the Community Initiative. 

  • 36% noticed that bottled water was newly available
  • 60% reported drinking less soda
  • 71% reported purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at least once a week
  • 50% reported eating more fruits
  • 45% reported eating more vegetables

Participants who received nutrition education also indicated greater confidence in:

  • choosing healthy food for their family
  • choosing healthy foods for their family on a budget
  • using the “Nutrition Facts” on food/drink labels to make healthy choices
  • 80% of nutrition education class respondents planned to purchase more fruits and vegetables
  • 100% of fruit and vegetable taste testing participants responded they planned to purchase the fruit/vegetable

“The HealthMPowers nutrition classes have been an eye opener for me. They encourage me to eat better, which is important being that I’m a diabetic.” - Nutrition Class Participant


This story was submitted by HealthMPowers, a SNAP-Ed Agency. For more information, please contact Heather Rice at 770.817.1733.