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Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More

Core Elements

This section outlines the aspects of an intervention that are central to its theory and logic and that are thought to be responsible for the intervention’s effectiveness.  Core elements are critical features of the intervention’s intent and design and should be kept intact when the intervention is implemented or adapted. 

  1. Recruit and train a nutrition/physical activity educator: Consider partnering with the local Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). EFNEP staff can assist in teaching the nutrition/physical activity education series and can provide faith community members access to county-level resources. While other health professionals (e.g. a parish nurse) can also serve in this role, Cooperative Extension’s EFNEP provides staff who are trained to deliver the nutrition and physical activity education component. Please note that EFNEP is available in every state, but not in every community.

  2. Recruit faith communities: The nutrition/physical activity educator is responsible for recruiting faith communities. The Faithful Families program coordinator is responsible for training and providing ongoing technical assistance to the nutrition/physical activity educators, including strategies for recruitment. Consider giving preference to faith communities with a majority of members eligible for Medicaid, eligible for free or reduced school lunches and/or at 200% of the federal poverty level. While the strategy is appropriate in any faith community, low-resource communities face greater health disparities.

  3. Recruit and train lay leaders from each faith community involved in the program: The faith community lay leader is essential to connecting with program participants. He or she uses scriptures, readings and faith-based practices to connect health information for faith communities. He or she also helps communities plan and implement policy and environmental changes that support healthy eating and physical activity.

  4. Administer health assessments to faith community members: The faith community should agree from the outset to assess members’ health at the beginning and at the end of the program. These assessments will help lay leaders and nutrition/physical activity educators as they tailor their curriculum and evaluate participants’ progress over the course of the program.

  5. Recruit faith community members to participate in nutrition/physical activity sessions: The designated lay leader is responsible for recruiting faith community members into the nutrition/physical activity sessions.

  6. Administer environmental and policy assessments: Assessment at the beginning of the program will help determine what policy and environmental changes lay leaders and nutrition/physical activity educators can encourage faith communities to adopt. 

  7. Commit to environmental and policy change:  The faith community should commit to at least one environmental change (e.g. posting a map of the parking lot or available trails that details distance) and one policy change (e.g. requiring that fruit be a dessert option) during the first program year. 

  8. Implement policy and environmental changes:  Provide necessary materials to implement the program; ensure they are easily accessible, understandable and meaningful to faith community members. (See Intervention Materials section for FFESMM curriculum and Planning Guide that can be adopted as is or adapted for use.  The FFESMM curriculum and Planning Guide are complementary tools designed to address the multiple levels of the S-E model.)