SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education) is a program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyles among low-income populations. SNAP was formerly called the Food Stamp Program.
In Hawai‛i, the program has two components: direct nutrition education, (led by our partners at the University of Hawai‛i Cooperative Extension Services), and the support of policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) changes—shifts that make healthy lifestyles easier where people eat, live, work, learn, shop and play. These two components must impact communities, schools, and families who meet income eligibility standards for SNAP-Ed, which vary depending on the setting.
DOH Program Overview
DOH’s PolicyMap is an online mapping tool with a variety of data sources around healthy food access and built environment (bike/pedestrian/multi-modal transportation) that can be used to create an in-depth, visually-rich local snapshot. For example, this mapping tool could be used to show farmers markets that accept EBT.
Please visit PolicyMap’s tutorial page for a complete walk through of all features and functions on PolicyMap.
We understand that the solutions to food insecurity and poor health need to come from within the communities most impacted by them. That is why DOH SNAP-Ed is focused on community leadership development in 4 Systems:
- Early Care and Education (ECE): We work with childcare facilities and administrators to promote the Hawai‛i ECE Wellness Guidelines and offer training and technical assistance in curricula such as Farm to Keiki. Learn more about ECE by visiting the website, here.
- Schools (K-12): Working in close partnership with the DOH School Health program, SNAP-Ed supports the implementation of the HIDOE School Wellness Policy. We also support farm to school initiatives through developing partnerships such as the Hawai‛i Farm to School Hui.
- Built environment: In order to ensure healthy food access for all, regardless of housing or transportation access, we have partnered with the DOH Built Environment program to work on issues such as complete streets, active transportation, housing, and urban agriculture.
- Community Food Access:
- SNAP retail: We know that the places where low-income residents shop for food don’t always have healthy items available. That’s why we support EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) programs at farmers’ markets, as well as nutrition incentive programs (where SNAP users get an extra dollar for each dollar they spend on fruits and vegetables, doubling their purchasing power)
- Emergency food relief: SNAP-Ed supports building leadership within the state’s food banks and food pantries to ensure that food bank clients have access to healthy food and other programs and services that help increase self-sufficiency.
- Food Access Capacity Building Project: Low income families face many challenges in accessing healthy foods. Cost, availability, preparation time, and cooking skill are the most commonly cited barriers. As a result of COVID-19, Hawai‘i has experienced a dramatic economic transition that has affected Hawai‘i’s low-income and food insecure populations resulting in a 55% increase in households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). A recent report found, among Hawai‘i residents who worried about running out of food, 65% also reported that they were sometimes or often unable to afford a balanced meal. Through community centers, churches, healthcare centers, and farms, we can develop systems that make healthy food more affordable, help residents know where their food comes from, instill basic food skills, and make healthy food easier to access, thereby improving the eating behaviors of entire communities.
Youth leadership development
Children are perhaps the most important population to engage in societal change around healthy behaviors. That’s why we support Youth Participatory Action Research (Y-PAR), an evidence based program that supports teens in identifying and tackling the challenges and assets in their own community, and organizing to make change.
Visit the YPAR Hawai‘i website by clicking here.