Making Food Systems Part of Your Community Health Needs Assessment is a practical guide to assessing local food systems and food security as part of the community health needs assessments that are conducted every three years by nonprofit hospitals. It provides links to user-friendly tools and strategies. The guide points to existing online sources of baseline data and metrics and case examples of collaborative partnerships between hospitals and food system stakeholders. It includes examples from food policy councils, food banks and pantries, and public health departments across the country. The guide is designed to support a local dialogue that encourages stakeholders to share experiences and identify existing tools, data, and resources. This process will create synergistic linkages and an ethic of shared ownership of the community’s health and well-being.
Tools for Change
TACKLING HUNGER has developed a set of tools, including policy briefs and guidance on Community Health Needs Assessments, designed for program practitioners, advocates, and health system leadership. The tools are meant to raise awareness of the complex issues surrounding food insecurity, chronic, disease, and health care costs and to disseminate information on programs that seek to address these problems. They can be used to inform discussions with health system leadership and policy makers on the importance and effectiveness investments that address food insecurity.
Addressing Food Insecurity in Older Adults: Health and Health Care Costs provides much requested information describing the economic impact of food insecurity on health care costs. The brief emphasizes the impact on older adults. It concludes with a short description of policies and programs designed to alleviate food insecurity. Food security advocates and others addressing social factors that impact health can use this brief as a tool in discussion with both health system leadership and local, state, and federal policymakers.
Evaluation is a critical component of any program – to identify areas for improvement, demonstrate program success to potential funders, and build the practice-based evidence to support the field. Newly launched programs should consider establishing baseline metrics and data collection protocols at the development stage, to assist with future evaluation efforts. Programs that are already underway can use predictive analytics and rapid cycle evaluation to improve program effectiveness. Below, we have compiled a sampling of evaluation resources that may be beneficial to program practitioners and health care leaders when implementing food insecurity programs.
When developing an evaluation plan, consider how to achieve maximum results while placing a minimum burden on program participants. Evaluations should include both short-term and long-term outcomes to measure early success, identify areas for improvement, and track progress toward long-term goals.
CDC’s Program Performance and Evaluation Office offers information and resources for public health evaluation:
Community Tool Box is a user-friendly toolbox adapted from CDC’s resources from the Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas
The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) offers resources for health care-community partnerships that address obesity prevention, many of which are adaptable to the food insecurity context. Resources include a sample logic model for that programs may consider adapting as part of their evaluation efforts:
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality issued a paper on “Using Rapid-Cycle Research to Reach Goals, Awareness, Adaptation, Acceleration.” This report will be particularly useful for programs that want to quickly assess components of their intervention for continuous quality improvement and evaluation purposes.
Creating Health Care and Community Partnerships to Tackle Food Insecurity is a resource for community organizers aiming to address food insecurity in partnership with health care organizations. The Action Brief provides facts about food insecurity and its negative health and economic consequences, and outlines examples of ways in which community and health care organizations are partnering to address food insecurity across the country. The brief concludes with actionable strategies for getting started in building health care and community partnerships, and addressing food insecurity, in your community.