The epidemic of obesity and associated chronic diseases are recognized as leading public health threats of the 21st century. They are likely to shorten and diminish the quality of life of millions of Americans and lead to the placement of unsustainable burdens on an already strained health care system. This is especially true for low-income populations, who are often faced with access and resource disparities. Hunger and obesity cost billions of dollars annually in lost productivity and health care. To address the epidemic, public health systems are developing strategies of nutrition interventions to enable targeted audiences to make behavioral changes, such as healthier food and physical activity choices.

Altarum’s Center for Food and Nutrition (CFAN) provides expert consultation to nutrition program providers to address these critical public health issues. We are a nationally recognized leader in nutrition program research at the national, state, and local levels—most notably for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). We provide formative and evaluation research, needs assessments, strategic planning, and technical assistance to develop effective service delivery models and nutrition education strategies that promote the adoption of positive nutrition and health-related behaviors.

Our team of nutrition program experts has field technical assistance experience working on the front line with program participants. The CFAN team also includes former administrators who have decades of expertise in nutrition program management. Comprised of experienced trainers, group facilitators, Registered Dieticians, breastfeeding experts, learner-centered educators, and data analysts, CFAN is highly skilled in helping nutrition program staff to embrace innovative approaches to nutrition education. We identify and develop evidence-based practices and interventions to improve program operations and outcomes.

Working with state and local WIC staff, CFAN developed a systems approach to WIC service delivery and developed a model entitled “Participant-Centered Services ” (PCS). The PCS model describes a customer-focused WIC program using seven domains, with features highlighted within each domain. The participant is positioned at the center of the model, reinforcing the concept that all aspects of WIC service delivery influence the participant’s experience with the program and that all components of service delivery need to consider the participant’s experience. In the model, four key service qualities surround the domains and the participant: Respect, Individualize, Motivate and Empathize. The PCS model is the standard used for assessment and planning for effective WIC service delivery.

WIC Participant-Centered Services Model


CFAN has conducted PSC assessments and training in over 30 WIC state agencies nationwide. We offer PCS training workshops on nutrition counseling, communication skills, customer service, mentoring, and coaching.

We have also developed a systems change model for SNAP-Ed, the nutrition education component of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Our model focuses on the key features of a successful SNAP-Ed program, including strong formative research, transitioning traditional SNAP-Ed to client-preferred learning styles, integrating messaging within and across multiple programs, and adding a strong process and outcome evaluation component to the mix. The model contains sets of high level outcome domains with key features that describe how the performance indicators support the domain outcomes. This model of nutrition education delivery is especially critical as SNAP-Ed evolves into a broader based obesity prevention program as mandated in the SNAP-Ed Guidance based on enactment of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-296).

SNAP-Ed Systems Change Model


We are committed to ending hunger and providing food security to all Americans. Contact us today to see how CFAN can assist you in refining your nutrition education strategies and interventions so that you are uniquely positioned to promote the long-term health of children and families.