Helping Illinois SNAP-Ed Make Evidence-Informed Decisions
The goal of University of Illinois SNAP-Ed is to improve healthy eating and physical activity choices of Illinois families with limited incomes to reduce risk of chronic disease, increase access to healthy foods to improve nutrition security, and create community collaborations focused on obesity prevention. Illinois SNAP-Ed utilizes a “community network” approach to reach these goals. Community networks are targeted geographic areas (neighborhoods, towns, cities) where SNAP-Ed eligible families live, work, shop, eat, play, and learn. Altarum has worked closely with Illinois SNAP-Ed to assess the community network approach and progress made toward achieving programmatic goals.
Altarum worked with Illinois SNAP-Ed to develop a method for measuring program dosage of intervention components of the multi-level, multi-component program across community networks. We then planned and conducted an impact evaluation of the Illinois SNAP-Ed community network model in a diverse set of sample networks across the state. We conducted staff focus groups and assessed partnerships and coalitions in these networks. We have also assessed Illinois SNAP-Ed’s new social marketing campaign, Eat.Move.Save., which is designed to promote healthy eating and physical activity in communities having high concentrations of families with lower incomes. Finally, we are in the process of designing and executing an economic analysis that will help assess the potential societal value and expected return on investment from improved health and behavior change caused by Illinois SNAP-Ed programming.
We have gathered data that allows Illinois SNAP-Ed to make evidence-informed decisions for future programming efforts and builds upon the literature of community-based public health approaches. Ongoing evaluation will further strengthen SNAP-Ed programming in Illinois and will be disseminated more broadly to inform SNAP-Ed programming at the national level.