Maine SNAP-Ed team publishes article on inclusive communication audit for public health interventions

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The paper was co-authored by four members of UNE's Center for Excellence in Public Health.

Pamela Bruno, M.P.H., senior research associate at the Center for Excellence in Public Health (CEPH), is lead author on a newly released publication in the journal Health Promotion Practice titled “Advancing Inclusive Communication: Implementing an Audit to Center Equity in SNAP-Ed Programming.”

The “Practice Note” article highlights the application of an audit tool to systematically review a cookbook that supports healthy eating for adults experiencing low income and participating in a Maine Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–Education (SNAP-Ed) intervention. The audit aimed to ensure a weight-neutral, empowering approach to supporting nutritional needs in Maine communities. CEPH’s Colleen Fuller, M.P.H., Hannah Ruhl, M.P.H., and Lori Kaley, M.S., RDN, MSB, are co-authors on the publication.

The Maine SNAP-Ed team created and implemented the comprehensive audit tool and the collaborative review process during the planned revision of the 48-page cookbook, “Eating Healthy on a Budget,” widely disseminated as part of the program’s “10 Tips for Adults” nutrition education series.

The five-person Maine SNAP-Ed audit team included two evaluators and the program’s public health intervention lead, as well as two registered dietitians—one state-level lead and one community-level practitioner. The team conceptualized the audit instrument using the guide “Language of Health: An Editorial Style Guide to Effectively Communicate to the Public,” which addresses health, nutrition, physical activity, weight and body size, disordered eating, and diet culture. Cultural appropriation, over-emphasis of limited resources, person-first language, and other inclusive language best practices were added to expand the review.

Fuller, who led the audit analysis, noted, “We identified 71 content edits that needed to be made in the cookbook, many of which were made to reduce stigmatizing language and make the cookbook more inclusive. This is demonstrated by the fact that the evaluation categories ‘Nutrition and Food’ and ‘Disordered Eating/Diet Culture,’ both of which align with the idea that all foods fit and are good foods, were two of the most common codes for edits.”

The instrument and methodology are conceptually replicable and adaptable, the team said, making this a practical approach to conducting similar reviews of program resources and promotional materials to center equity in public health communication.

Pamela Bruno, M.P.H.

Colleen Fuller, M.P.H.

Hannah Ruhl, M.P.H.

Lori Kaley, M.S., RDN, MSB