The study objective was to evaluate the policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) changes implemented by Southeast Region (SER) SNAP-Ed programs during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Use of Theory or Research
This study was guided by the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework and Interpretive Guide.
PSE interventions were targeted toward sites that serve SNAP-Ed eligible populations that are at or below 185% of the federal poverty level.
The SNAP-Ed program was implemented across eight states, including 25 implementing agencies. States focused on expansion of PSE interventions in 2020, to include long-term implementation strategies, which incorporates a multicomponent such as evidence-based education, marketing, community involvement, and/or staff training in addition to the PSE change. During the pandemic, many agencies focused on strengthening nutrition security.
States reported PSE changes, multicomponent strategies, sites, promotional efforts, COVID program adaptations, and estimated reach. Data were reported via the Program Evaluation and Reporting System or through an Excel template. All data were cleaned and descriptive statistics for all PSEs were analyzed using R statistical software.
Implementing agencies reported a total of 1,359 PSE changes across 7 states with a combined reach of 1,161,289. Common PSEs included novel food distribution systems, expanding access to fresh produce and edible gardens. A total of 666 sites (91%) reported a multicomponent intervention with their PSE nutrition change.
The study found that SNAP-Ed agencies were able to quickly and successfully pivot their programs to meet the needs of their communities during the pandemic reaching 1.1 million people with over 1,300 SNAP-Ed PSE changes compared to 830,049 in 2017. A shift in PSE implementation was seen. For example, more PSE changes occurred in food assistance sites, which included drive-through pantries. Also, there were increases in home and community garden projects to support families facing nutrition insecurity. Results indicate that most sites in SER are implementing multi-component interventions, that if continued, will lead to sustained, effective change over time.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education