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Produce Education Program (PEP)


Recent Accomplishments:

  • Secured $330,000 from California Department of Food & Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to expand PEP
  • Launched PEP with 5 food banks and their pantry partners


Photo: Janet, a Nutrition Educator with Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, delivers a lesson from the Produce Education Program (PEP).

The Produce Education Program (PEP) is CAFB’s innovative nutrition education program that reaches clients waiting in line at food distributions. Short (3-5 minute), interactive nutrition lessons, taste tests and recipe cards focus on one featured produce item being offered that day through our Programa de 'Farm to Family' program.

In 2012, CAFB partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and the California Department of Public Health to pilot PEP at several food pantry sites. In 2012, an independent evaluation found that the program helps clients learn nutrition information and increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables. As of January, 2016, there were 7 food banks, and 22 partner agencies implementing PEP.

PEP works as a “train-the-trainer” model, where CAFB provides participating food banks and food pantries with the training they need to implement PEP at their food distributions.  Pantry staff, volunteers or clients are trained as educators who then “walk the line” at food distribution, providing clients with an interactive nutrition lesson based on the USDA’s My Plate.

The lesson highlight one featured produce item that clients will receive that day at the food distribution. Clients receive an attractively designed recipe card focused on this one produce item, with related nutrition information, storage and handling tips, and a practical and delicious recipe.

A sample recipe card from PEP
CAFB continues to grow the PEP program statewide thanks to a three-year grant from the CDFA’s Speciality Crop Block Program.  The results of our ongoing evaluation have shown that PEP’s brief interventions are impactful.



PEP Materials – Includes downloadable lesson plans and recipe cards.

2015 Comparison Key Findings – Evaluation of PEP

Produce Toolbox Evaluation Report – Assessing the Impact of Nutrition Education at Produce Distributions

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