The Stages of Change Model

Our approach is based on the Stages of Change model and Social Cognitive Theory, which provide the foundation for many types of social service and public health programs.  In the More than Food framework, we recognize that helping people make behavior changes is a process that involves stages. 

To help members increase their food security, health and stability, it is important to understand how ready people are to make changes so that we can tailor information, programs, and services that will be most beneficial to them. Research shows that programs that match services and information with the appropriate stage of readiness are more effective and more sustainable than programs that apply a “one size fits all” approach.

Social Cognitive Theory focuses on an individual’s self-efficacy (confidence in their ability to make changes in their life), and their ability to be an agent of their own change. Our framework recognizes that people’s ability to make a change in their life varies according to their self-efficacy, abilities, and readiness for change; services are most effective when tailored to these factors. Staff should tailor services and information to each member’s stage of readiness to make changes in their life. It is critically important that staff and volunteers adopt this approach to achieve program success.

Theory for Healthy Client Choice

To help promote healthy food, we use theory to guide our work for the Supporting Wellness at Pantries (SWAP) system. The theoretical framework for the SWAP system incorporates behavioral economics, which includes the use of “nudging” strategies to encourage healthier choices. SWAP places a heavy emphasis on the strategic placement of food on shelves to promote the selection of green or yellow food items for clients. Examples of these subtle but effective strategies include placing healthier food at eye level, where it is more likely to be chosen, and placing unhealthy food closer to ground level, where it is less prominent.