Online Program

″My blood sugars are gorgeous these days:″ the perceived effects of the healthy communities through healthy food program on its older adult participants

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 12:42 p.m. - 12:54 p.m.

Maysoun Freij, PhD, MPH, Center for Evaluation and Applied Research, The New York Academy of Medicine, New York, NY
Terry Kaelber, Community Experience Partnership, United Neighborhood Houses, New York, NY
Tongtan Chantarat, MPH, CLC, Center for Evaluation and Applied Research, The New York Academy of Medicine, New York, NY
Linda Weiss, PhD, Center for Evaluation and Applied Research, The New York Academy of Medicine, New York, NY
INTRODUCTION - Healthy Communities through Healthy Food (HCHF) was a multi-year multi-site program in New York City to increase the civic engagement of older adults. Older adults were encouraged to be involved and take leadership roles in community gardens, farmers markets, a wholesale fresh food buyers club, and cooking demonstrations. Yet the health of older adults was thought to be one of the major challenges for participation in the program. METHODS: A mixed methods evaluation of the HCHF was conducted from 2010 to 2012; it included self-reported impacts of HCHF on mental and physical health. Quantitative surveys were completed by 148 individual participants; three focus groups were held with 28 participants, and in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 12 participants. Findings were compared over time, and across three participating organizations. RESULTS: The majority of participants were female between the ages of 61-80; 23% of those surveyed received SSI/ SSDI. The largest share of participants surveyed reported becoming involved to improve their own health and well-being (50%). Another top reason was to feel connected to their community (34%). Qualitative data indicate that participants perceived health improvements due to their involvement in the HCHF program. For example, one woman said, “personally, it's gotten me to eat better and healthier… It shows in a lot of my lab values.” Another said, “I feel like a veil has been pulled from my eyes. I'm healthier and happier.” DISCUSSION: The HCHF program attracted participants to civic engagement activities due to perceived health benefits.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the findings from an evaluation of a multi-site, multi-year civic engagement program for older adults that seeks to improve their local food environments. Explain how the Health Communities through Healthy Food Program enabled older adults in New York City to become involved in their communities and personally benefit from greater access to healthy food. Discuss the degree to which health is both a motivating and inhibiting factor in the civic engagement of older adults.

Keyword(s): Aging, Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an evaluation researcher, and have been the principal investigator on the evaluation of the Healthy Communities through Healthy Food(HCHF) project since 2010. I have a special interest in aging populations, health disparities, and health promotion.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.