The FreshLink Ambassador (FLA) Model was developed through funding from the CDC as the core research of the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods over a 5-year period 2014 - 2019. During the development of the intervention, the pilot program launched in 2016, and the program was fully implemented at farmers' markets in Cleveland, Ohio in 2017 and 2018. The results of the program are detailed in a series of publications.
In 2017 and 2018, trained FreshLink Ambassadors reached more than 3,500 potential farmers’ market customers. Outreach was targeted in neighborhoods that were located within one mile of a farmers' market that had a SNAP incentive program, and where 30% or more of the residents received SNAP. The peer-to-peer marketing approach effectively reached key target populations. More than half of the people reached by a FreshLink Ambassador were SNAP beneficiaries, and had children under 18 years old in their household, but had never shopped at a farmers’ market. Overall, farmers' markets supported by a FreshLink Ambassador had greater improvements in SNAP sales compared to farmers' markets without the support of FreshLink Ambassador. On average, farmers' markets with a FreshLink Ambassador had generated a 6% increase in SNAP sales in year-to-year comparisons.
Following the creation, implementation, and evaluation of the FreshLink Ambassador the approach, the primary goal has been to share findings and provide technical assistance to partners interested in implementing the peer-to-peer outreach approach. To do this, we developed a series of toolkits, videos, webinars, presentations, and publications, to guide conversations and training of interested partners. The FreshLink Ambassador (FLA) Toolkit includes four components that are designed to be used together:
Through a new partnership with the National Farmers Market Coalition, the Swetland Center is now working to share the FreshLink Ambassador approach more widely. The Farmers' Market Coalition is one of the organizations leading the national Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) Training and Technical Assistance Center, which provides support to USDA-funded grantees offering nutrition incentive programming to promote fruit and vegetable purchasing among people receiving SNAP.