Envisaging food stamps office as a site for outreach

This week, our outreach was slightly different, our internship thought that we should shift a little bit our placements at the farmers markets to go to food stamps office. He thought that going to food stamps office was a very effective way to spread the word out about SNAP and gardening. In fact, going there was a very good idea for this way it was a more direct way to get in touch with our primary target population: people using food stamps. There we were able to inform to people that they could use their EBT benefits to by edible plants and seeds. We handed out flyers to those who were receptive about the message. We also stayed in this office for observation purposes just as way to see what kind of ads/posters they had on the wall also to check out what kind of things/message they showed on TV whether it was health/gardening/food stamps related.

We also spoke to the directors of the different offices to find out about what to do to put SNAP gardens posters in the office. After this experience this week, My internship partner and I agreed upon that we should go to all food stamps office in all boroughs to communicate the message for it is much more direct , faster and effective way to deliver the message.

Contributions to SNAPgardens

Aside from doing community oureach,I  sometimes feel like I can utilize other personal and professional skills to contribute to the project that I am doing in SNAPgardens.Though not clear to me yet,I sense that utilizing my research skills  to make a case study on the organization into finding out whether or not what they are doing is being properly or rather effectively done can be a contribution to the organization and beneficial to myself. Basically finding, comprehending public health research specific to population interested in gardening or programs that are food stamps related can definitely help to determine the significance of this project .

 

 

 

 

Also researching and identifying effective community  health programs or interventions focused toward communities of similar background  is of a huge importance.At SNAP gardens, our aim is to promote health from a gardening perspective .We tell people on food stamps that they can do so much more with their EBT benefits, they can grow gardens! However implementing these health promotion program and evaluating the effectiveness of it can be challenging. Hence, I feel like creating surveys either in word documents to hand in physical copies or creating online survey via survey monkey is one of the best methods to assess if the work that we are doing is really contributing to the organization. Also in order to be effective in doing community outreach or when interning in a fieldwork organization is being able to act as a resource person. This way it gives a good image to the organization and it gives interest to the person you are conveying the message to.

 

Outreach methods can be very diverse

This week was relatively a though week for us doing community outreach in SNAP gardens. We had to do a lot of work more like the type of the indoor one, to be more precise office work. My internship partner and I had to send out individuals emails to about 250 SNAP-ED agencies all around the country to inform them that the SNAP-ED guidance for Fiscal Year 2013 has changed, and gotten better for gardening! The purchase of seeds, plants, and small gardening tools and supplies to assist in developing garden projects are, for the first time, allowable SNAP-Ed costs, as well as educational supplies, curricula, and staff salaries to teach gardening concepts.If interested for more information,please read http://www.SNAPgardens.org/2012/04/04/more-gardening-opportunities-in-fy-2013-snap-ed-guidance/

Our task also consisted of immediate replies to whatever questions they may  had have after being contacted.Another aspect of our outreach included posting daily links about farmers markets or community gardening on the SNAPGardens facebook page and this has proven to be effective. Posting daily success story about gardening and farmers market is a way to encourage others into these activities and it is also a way to empower any followers that we have on twitter or people who liked SNAPGardens facebook page.It is a way of inciting them into adopting healthy behaviors and sharing them with their friends via Facebook or twitter.

Cultural competence in fieldwork

As I have mentioned in my previous blog post. It is my very first time doing fieldwork in the US in public health (aside that I have done some in Haiti during the 2010 earthquake). Since I am doing outreach in 5 boroughs and am also reaching out all over the country, my population is rather diverse, with of course, people with food stamps as my primary target population. For this fieldwork I had to learn a lot about SNAP (supplemental nutritional assistance program) and Snap-ed (SNAP-education) in order to have a broader perspective on this topic and to also be able to discuss with anyone about it. When it comes to outreach at farmers markets, I can’t say that I have encountered lots of cultural barriers.

Coming from a country where there a lot of cultural differences has really helped me into ameliorating my cultural competence skills when it comes to dealing with people from different cultures. Some people at the farmers market did not feel comfortable leaving their contact information neither did they feel comfortable revealing their first name. So my internship partner and I had to be very patient and respect their choices after explaining to them that they have all the rights to keep their personal information. However we did explain to them that we do not divulge any information. We tried as much as we could to be cultural competent, after all it is part of our duty as public health professionals.