Ensuring access to good nutrition and opportunities for an active lifestyle to improve health outcomes in the community.

The Community Nutrition Department offers programs and services designed to improve healthy lifestyles including nutrition and physical activities across the life course in socioeconomically vulnerable communities. The department has developed quite successful statewide multi-partner initiatives to improve access to healthy food and safe environments for the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.


•PANA is the Program to increase Access to good Nutrition and Active life.

•PANA provides evidence-based nutrition and healthy lifestyles education services to SNAP families in Connecticut, it is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA Food Guide.

•SNAP helps families with limited budgets to eat healthier.

•PANA is represented in food policy and system local and statewide committees and coalitions.

•PANA reaches thousands of children and their families at seven major cities in CT: Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, New Britain, Waterbury, New London, and Norwich.

•The program is funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Our services are interactive, hands-on, and are offered in English/Spanish.

Group Presentations

A series of one-hour workshops for parents and older adults are offered on the following topics:

  • Healthy meal planning
  • Understanding the Nutrition Facts on food labels
  • The four steps to keep food safe.
  • Lifestyle choices to prevent chronic diseases.
  • Healthy cooking demonstrations.

Puppet Shows

Consist of a series of nutrition and exercise performances for children from pre-school through 3rd grade, with follow-up classroom activities and information for their parents.

  • My Plate and its Friends: Children learn to eat a variety of healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
  • Happy Heart: Children are taught how to keep their heart healthy by eating fiber rich foods, low sodium and fat foods, staying active, and avoiding smoking.
  • Fernando’s Farm: Children know about the important work of farmers dedicated to produce food at the farm.
  • Lolita Gets Sick: Children identify the four steps to keep food free from bacteria and prevent getting sick with contaminated foods.
  • Grandma Visits the Doctor: Children understand the importance of eating healthy and being active to prevent chronic diseases later in life.
  • Tommy Enjoys Exercising: Children are motivated to reduce the time spent watching TV or playing games, staying active, drinking water, and eating healthy.

Jeopardy Games

Enhancing nutrition and exercise knowledge and behaviors for children from 4th grade and up. These presentations offer the following topics.

  • My Plate and the importance of an active lifestyle.
  • Four steps to keep food safe from bacteria.
  • Using the Nutrition Facts to choose healthy food and drinks.

Media Smart Youth

It teaches youth how to make good food and exercise choices by challenging their critical thinking on how the media influence their food preference. It is offered at after school and Summer programs.

It consists in ten 90 minutes educational sessions promoting good nutrition and physical activity targeting youth aged 11-13. It is based on “Media Smart Youth, Eat, Think, and Be Active” NIH curricula.

Holcomb Farm

In partnership with a local Community Supported Agriculture Farm (CSA), during the summer the program offers hands on nutrition education activities using local vegetable recipes, and free organic vegetables.

Nutrition and Exercise Education at Hartford Mobile Market

The Hartford Mobile Market (HMM) is the result of community-based research aimed to find community informed solutions to the lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables in Hartford neighborhoods. Funded by several private sources and administered by the Hartford Food System, HMM was established selling year-round fresh produces. Our program provides nutrition and physical activities education as well as vegetable recipes at those stops.

Nutrition Education at Community Events

The program conducts individual nutrition education at tables with complementary blood pressure taken at senior centers at several cities across Connecticut. These activities are run in partnership with the American Heart Association as part of its “Know Your Numbers Campaign”.