For more information please call: (860) 527-0856
PANA stands for Program to increase Access to good Nutrition and physical Activity or in Spanish, Programa para mejorar el Accesso a una buena Nutrición y Actividad física. The program began in 1995 with a community needs assessment (link to report). It mostly targets low-income populations living in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwich and Waterbury. It delivers culturally relevant nutrition and exercise education services at Early Childhood Centers, Public Schools, Senior Centers, and other community sites. It uses age appropriated interactive activities including puppet shows, jeopardy games and hands-on educational sessions for children and their families. The program has developed culturally relevant educational materials and implemented social marketing campaigns (link to materials). In 2012, this program was recognized with an honorable mention by First Lady Michelle Obama Let’s Move Faith and Communities initiative for the prevention of childhood obesity (video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0x3DxlRlzg).
This program is funded by the CT Department Social Services, USDA SNAP-Ed program.
PANA program aim is to improve the likelihood that SNAP recipients will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and increase their physical activity levels. Specifically, it addresses low consumption of fruits and vegetables, inadequate food choices, lack of physical activity leading to overweight/obesity among low-income families.
SNAP-eligible households and individuals living in Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport,
Waterbury, New London, Norwich, New Britain, and other CT low-income communities.
In 2015, the program reached 15,200 participants for a total of 45,300 contacts.
Puppet Shows Key Messages
- My Plate and his friends. Children learn to eat a variety of healthy foods with My Plate, especially fruits and vegetables.
- Happy Heart. Children learn the importance of eating foods that are rich in fiber along with low fat foods as part of a healthy diet, staying active, and avoid smoking to keep their heart healthy.
- Fernando’s Farm. Children understand the links between the food they eat and the farm. They also learn the importance of supporting farmer markets and community gardens.
- Lolita Gets Sick. Children have fun learning about the four steps to keep food free from bacteria and prevent foodborne illness.
- Grand ma visits the doctor. Help children understand what Type 2 Diabetes is and how to prevent it through healthy eating and exercise.
- Tommy Enjoys Exercising. Children learn about the importance of eating healthy, drinking water, and staying active.
Jeopardy Games are interactive educational activities designed to enhance nutrition and health knowledge among children from 4th grade and up. My Plate and Food Safety are the two main topics offered through these presentations.
Media Smart Youth: this activity consist in ten 90 minutes lessons promoting good nutrition and physical activity among children aged 11-13 years old. This activity is based on an NIH evidence based curriculum “Media Smart Youth, Eat, Think, and Be Active” https://www.nichd.nih.gov/msy/Pages/index.aspx. The main objectives of this activity is to teach children to make good food and exercise choices by improving their critical thinking about how the media influence their food preference and other health related behaviors including the time that they spend watching TV or playing games instead of exercising.
Group Presentations. Nutrition and exercise one-hour workshops are provided to adults in the community. They highlight the importance of nutrition and exercise in daily life, providing knowledge and skills that will help participants to make healthy food and exercise choices. The main topics covered are: Using My Plate to plan your meals; making healthy food choices by reading food labels; four steps to keep food safe from bacteria; living a healthy lifestyle to prevent chronic diseases. Food tasting activities seeking to increase vegetable intake among participants may also be part of these presentations.
Holcomb Farm. The Hispanic Health Council (HHC) is a member of Holcomb Farm, a Community Supported Agricultural Farm (CSA), and it is part of their Fresh Access initiative seeking to promote community health by providing access to organic vegetables to low-income communities living in the greater Hartford area http://holcombfarm.org/freshaccess. The intent is to bring the farm to the city, its main objective is to introduce HHC clients to locally organic grown vegetables during the growing season. Thus, from June through September, the program conducts weekly individual or group nutrition education sessions along with recipes, including food tasting activities to HHC clients. At the end of each participants receive educative materials and a bag of free organic vegetables. During the last season, about 600 families benefited from this activity.
Nutrition and Exercise Education at the Hartford Mobile Market (Insert a link to the Hartford Food Systems http://www.hartfordfood.org/)
The Hartford Mobile Market was the result of community based research seeking for community informed solutions to the lack of access of fresh fruit and vegetables in Hartford Neighborhoods. This research was conducted by the Hispanic Health Council/NIH EXPORT Center for Eliminating Health Disparities among Latinos (CEHDL). Qualitative data collected through focus group and forums with community members resulted in the idea of having a Mobile Food Market making stops in different areas of the city of Hartford selling year round fresh produce as one way to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The Hartford Mobile Market is now a reality funded by several private sources with the Hartford Food System being in charge of its implementation and daily operations. The HHC PANA Programs provides nutrition and exercise education on site for clients at the different stops, and during the summer at some locations vegetable tasting activities are also conducted.
Vegetable tasting activities: During late spring and throughout the summer the program conducts a series of vegetable tasting activities as part of the Hartford Mobile Market, Holcomb Farm, Summer feeding programs and as part of group presentations in the community. Its main objective is to increase acceptance for a variety of vegetables among low-income families.
Resources & Links
- Connecticut Food Alliance
- Google Calendar –snap4ct http://www.snap4ct.org/events-calendar.html
- Food and Nutrition Information Center at United States Department of Agriculture
- Get Healthy Connecticut
Food Assistance and Anti-hunger Programs in Connecticut
- Women Infants Children (WIC) Program
- Department of Social Services Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- State of Connecticut Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs
- End Hunger Connecticut
- Connecticut Food Bank