Public Health Toolkit: Best Practices

Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables

Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables is a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) project administered by the State Health Department. Through partnerships with eight of New York's regional food banks and the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP), Just Say Yes nutrition educators deliver workshops at food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, and other community sites in all 62 NYS counties. Workshops provide nutrition lessons on diet quality, food resource management, and physical activity and cooking demonstrations featuring Just Say Yes's 200+ fruit and vegetable recipes.

Just Say Yes also provides nutrition workshops at farmers' markets throughout New York State. The Just Say Yes Stellar Farmers' Market (SFM) program is a collaboration between the State Health Department and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that brings the Just Say Yes curriculum to farmers' markets in high-need areas throughout the city. The State Health Department also partners with regional food banks to provide Just Say Yest at workshops at farmers' markets in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.

Through Just Say Yes workshops in emergency food programs and at the farmers' market, they reached more than 34,000 people in fiscal year 2016-2017. Current initiatives to improve workshops include collecting additional data from participants to inform program evaluation, expanding the number of workshop lesson plans, and creating recipe cards for participants to take home and use to prepare the recipe for their families.

Lessons Learned:

  • Partnerships are key. The State Health Department's partnerships with regional food banks and NYC Department of Health allow Just Say Yes to have a reach statewide. Our contractors also partner with organizations in their communities, including food bank member agencies, low-income housing sites, and rehabilitation centers, among others, to host workshops and provide nutrition outreach.
  • Showing how it's done works. Cooking demonstrations show participants that cooking from scratch is fun and easy! Learning valuable cooking skills like dicing onions or hulling strawberries from Just Say Yes nutrition educators give participants more confidence in the kitchen and makes it easier to stretch limited food dollars.
  • Versatility is handy. Having more than 200 recipes to demonstrate allows educators to adapt to any situation. For example, at a food pantry workshop, an educator may use a recipe with canned produce found at emergency food sites; however, at a farmers' market workshop, they may demonstrate a different recipe with fresh produce available for purchase.
  • Communication is a two-way street.Our workshops encourage participant discussion providing a safe space allowing participants to freely contribute to the lesson and be the expert regarding their own experiences. In the same vein, we welcome feedback from our contractors and encourage them to take an active role in lesson plan development, recipe revisions, and program improvement, as they know best the needs of their clientele.

Share Your Best Practices

Across New York State, health professionals are making great strides in improving public health through a wide range of initiatives such as reducing sodium consumption in schools, prompting municipal officials to move toward "walkable" communities and even convincing store owners to remove tobacco advertising. The New York State Department of Health would like to share and highlight your successes, best practices and lessons learned. Public health efforts come in all sizes and shapes – a one-time only poster or promotional giveaway or a multifaceted campaign. Some are more effective than others, but all of them teach us something about reaching audiences and changing behavior. Help others benefit from your experiences, large or small by sharing them with us to highlight on this page.

Examples of best practices

  • Campaign that motivated the community and community leaders to take action
  • Outreach to a hard to reach audience
  • Innovative use of social media or other emerging technology
  • Low or no-budget effort that succeeded beyond expectations
  • A slogan, logo or other branding that effectively communicated with and motivated an audience

If you have a story to tell that others could benefit learning about, please share your knowledge with us by filling in the fields within this PDF and email it to us at bmcc3@health.ny.gov.
Each submission will be followed up on and considered for a chance to be highlighted on this page.