Online Program

Pulling municipal and organizational policy levers to promote community garden engagement among SNAP recipients

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 11:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Molly M. De Marco, PhD, MPH, Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Daniella Uslan, MPH, UNC Chapel Hill, Center for Health Promotion Disease Prevention, Chapel Hill, NC
Reverend William Kearney, Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church, Warrenton, NC
Brett Sheppard, MS, Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Introduction: Community gardens provide an opportunity to improve access to healthy foods. Our goals were to develop community gardens to engage Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients and examine the process of forming these gardens, including working within existing municipal and organizational policy.

Methods: The program was implemented in 6 Southern counties. To date, 12 gardens have been developed with 6 more by May 2015. The program teaches SNAP recipients gardening skills and the benefits of eating fresh produce and provides produce to take home.

Results: Developing these gardens required working with town planning and public housing departments. One plot of land had to be re-zoned. For another, an MOU was required between the public housing department and our university.  We also worked with organizational policies including how land could be used and by whom. Identifying town and organization staff to be champions for the gardens facilitated policy change. Of the initial 12 gardens, 11 successfully grew healthy food. The gardens ranged in size from three raised beds to a quarter acre. Participants’ knowledge of gardening and access to vegetables increased.  The intervention engaged 128 SNAP recipients who received garden produce (2,750 pounds harvested, range 50-1,500 pounds/garden). These data plus interviews with garden managers show that more gardening education and better ways to measure garden yield are needed.

Discussion: Our findings on the process of implementing community gardens and the impact of those gardens on SNAP recipients can be used to guide other communities who want to initiate garden projects.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe how to work within municipal and organizational policy to develop community gardens. List the metrics used to measure community garden process and impact. Explain how data is used to modify an intervention to address healthy food access through community gardens.

Keyword(s): Food Security, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I originated this study, lead the implementation of the community garden project, and developed the evaluation plan. My area of research expertise is food systems including community gardens
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.