Partners that are engaged through active coalitions are vital to the success of SNAP-Ed in Tennessee. All 95 counties are required to have a SNAP-Ed coalition. These coalitions have members from diverse public and nonprofit agencies and organizations as well as SNAP and SNAP-Ed participants. Their common goal is improving nutrition and physical activity outcomes for low-income residents and communities. Each coalition is charged with identifying community needs, working together to implement interventions, and evaluating and reporting their collective efforts. To measure community-wide partnerships (indicator ST8 in the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework), focus groups and surveys were conducted. Based on results of both, coalition members identified the following three key components for success:
- coalition work that contributes to activities and interventions with measurable results for people and communities;
- regular productive communication between members; and
- a respectful and inclusive leader chosen by the group.
Using these elements, coalition strength is scored by combining information from meeting minutes and surveys. Coalitions are rated on their communication efforts, inclusion, leadership, and measurable community outcomes as well as member satisfaction with the coalition. The coalition’s score is used to help local SNAP-Ed providers identify areas for improvement.