Delivering on a brand promise can be tricky. Our approach helped USDA reach new audiences—more people to serve—to make good on that promise. 

Powering USDA food assistance programs through integrated marketing.

To promote awareness and increased participation around three key food assistance programs, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) asked CHIEF to tackle the key marketing challenges keeping the organization from fulfilling its brand promise. CHIEF’s integrated marketing strategies—from integrity messaging to viral social media campaigns and out-of-home designs—made it possible to target and activate USDA audiences in ways they’d never been before.


Marketing & Communications Strategy
User Experience

Farm To School (F2S) Program

Farm To School Buttons
Farm to School Brochure

The USDA’s Farm To School (F2S) Program works to increase the availability of local and healthy foods in schools, but school food administrators were either unaware of the program or daunted by the presumed heavy-lift of implementation. Research also revealed a key insight: early F2S adopters felt that their hard work in school kitchens went unrecognized. To bring the F2S brand to life and support a sense of community around the program, CHIEF designed a custom logo, buttons, seed packets and other brand collateral.

As a way to shed light on the program’s value and flexibility of use, CHIEF developed a tradeshow strategy that celebrated the successes of school food administrators. With a backdrop that featured bright, bold visuals, the tradeshow design posed the question, “How have you brought the farm to the school?” as a way to inspire conversations and applaud achievements.

USDA Tradeshow

The Results

CHIEF’s tradeshow design, a vivid display featuring personalized stories and compelling interactivity, drew in new program participants by celebrating everything that makes F2S great. We call that a successful harvest.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP Program

CHIEF dove deep to understand consumer sentiment and identify gaps and messaging trends—ultimately opening the door to new ways to strengthen integrity messaging.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides children and low-income individuals across the country with food every day—great work that deserves strong and clear messaging. To sure up SNAP’s integrity communications, CHIEF launched a robust content audit and heuristic evaluation of all SNAP-related materials. We developed a rubric to evaluate each material’s strength around five key messages, such as instructions on eligible food purchases and managing SNAP EBT cards.

We also kept an eye on the channels that best reached SNAP recipients—from EBT mailers to the USDA SNAP website to in-store educational posters. Using these findings, CHIEF developed templates and sample language that all 53 participating states and territories could use to cohesively and clearly shine a light on the program.

The Results

CHIEF’s work enhanced user understanding of the SNAP program—thereby reducing program fraud, saving taxpayer dollars and keeping funds focused on the fight against hunger.

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

The USDA came to CHIEF to design and execute an awareness and advocacy campaign for its Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)—a summertime meal assistance program for children from low-income homes. CHIEF designed a swift and smart two-pronged strategy to drive awareness and increase program participation. The first priority: write personalized letters to activate targeted heavy-hitters like mayors, judges and other elected officials with expansive reach in each community.

To follow up, CHIEF honed in on a segment of social media users known as “slacktivists”—those more inclined to support a cause online than through traditional methods. Through the crowdspeaking platform Thunderclap, we made it easy for these users to engage with and amplify the SFSP message, triggering waves across the Internet.

USDA personalized letters

CHIEF sent personalized letters to elected officials to drive support and local activism.

The Results

Our original goal: activate 100 supporters. Instead, we captured 390 supporters who lent their “social voices” to the SFSP Thunderclap campaign. The coordinated surge cast over three million impressions across the web, heightening awareness of and support for SFSP’s mission. Thanks, slacktivists