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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plays an essential role in the nutrition status of low-income families in the United States. Although it is not mandatory to provide nutrition education to SNAP recipients, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) highly encourages each state’s SNAP agency to educate SNAP participants (SNAP-Ed). The purpose of SNAP-Ed is to help SNAP eligible individuals to make healthy food choices consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, that fit within their limited budget. In New Mexico, SNAP and SNAP-Ed are administered by the State of New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD).

FNS guides states to choose the most effective nutrition education tools and strategies to meet the focus of SNAP-Ed. FNS encourages state plans to include “behaviorally focused, sciencebased nutrition education interventions, projects or social marketing campaigns” [1]. Social Marketing is defined as a consumerfocused, research-based process to plan, implement and evaluate interventions that are designed to influence the voluntary behavior of a large number of people in the target audience [1].

The purpose of the SNAP-Ed New Mexico Social Marketing Campaign is to develop and evaluate culturally appropriate nutrition education intervention messages in Spanish for parents and care-givers of preschool age children, parents of elementary school-age children, and children ages 8-10 years. In collaboration with HSD, the University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center (PRC) set out to develop and test messages to effectively motivate SNAP participants who do not currently meet U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommendations for consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and low-fat dairy to increase their intake of these foods. This is a three phase project. Phase one of the project was the planning phase and consisted of conducting focus groups with Spanish speaking SNAP eligible individuals to identify the concepts in which the messages for this specific population would be based. This formative research phase was carried out from January 2010 until June 2011.

Focus groups were conducted with a) parents of preschool children, b) parents of elementary school-age children, and c) children ages 8-10. The goal was to have SNAP-eligible, Spanish speaking parents and children develop “slogans” and “messages” which would resonate with them and their neighbors and encourage families to make healthy food choices.

This report outlines the methods used for the focus groups; results from the focus groups with emergent themes and direct quotes from participants; discussion of findings and implications for SNAP-Ed; connections with the consumer-tested FNS Core Nutrition Messages; and next steps for phases two and three of the campaign.


This report was developed by the University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center to share the findings and recommendations from focus groups conducted in rural and urban areas in New Mexico as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Social Marketing Campaign, commissioned by the State of New Mexico Human Services Department contract # GSA 11-630-9000-0005.

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