Maine SNAP-Ed presents at American Public Health Association annual meeting

The Maine SNAP-Ed implementing team at the University of New England Center for Excellence in Public Health (CEPH) recently presented at the American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting as part of a national panel on SNAP-Ed policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change initiatives.

In October, CEPH staff presented findings from their study examining implementation and impact of PSE public health initiatives over a five-year period. Their presentation was titled “Five Years of Public Health Approaches: The Expanding Implementation of Maine SNAP-Ed’s Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) Change Initiatives.”

The study used ArcGIS to geocode primary sites impacted by Maine SNAP-Ed for each PSE strategy where at least one change was adopted from 2015 to 2019. Population reach of the strategies was demarcated and aggregated to demonstrate cumulative impact over time, illustrating how public health approaches like community gardens, clinical-community linkages with nutrition education, and farmers market initiatives reach Mainers experiencing low income.

The analysis and findings were linked to a national evaluation framework to add to practitioner learning and uptake of national, aggregable indicators.

Hannah Ruhl, M.P.H., was the presenting author of the study. As the SNAP-Ed program’s obesity prevention coordinator, Ruhl described how capacity to implement evidence-based PSE change strategies has increased over time and how supporting professional development is critical to program success. Senior research associates Pamela Bruno, M.P.H., and Kira Rodriguez, M.H.S., led the program evaluation. Rodriguez also designed and conducted the GIS analysis project.

SNAP-Ed is the USDA’s nutrition education arm of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and is funded federally through the Farm Bill. Every state receives a federal SNAP-Ed grant allocation annually. In Maine, the grant is administered by Maine DHHS and implemented statewide by the University of New England through contracts with local community health organizations.

The CEPH at UNE was awarded a five-year contract to implement SNAP-Ed programming in Maine beginning Oct. 1, 2018.

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