Online Program

Strategies for Evaluating Community-level Policy and Environmental Change in a Healthy Food and Built Environment Initiative

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 2:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

Martha Quinn, MPH, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Laurie Carpenter, MSW, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Laurie Lachance, PhD, MPH, Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Margaret Wilkin, MPH, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Since 2007, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has funded nine diverse community coalitions, known as Food & Fitness Partnerships, to bring about policy and environmental changes to improve equity in access to healthy, locally-grown food and opportunities for active living. The partnerships have targeted their work in vulnerable neighborhoods and schools. The Center for Managing Chronic Disease (CMCD) at the University of Michigan coordinates this cross-site evaluation.    


While evaluating policy change can be challenging, an innovative tool was created collaboratively by the CMCD and partnerships called the Systems and Policy Change Form (SPCF) to track the policy changes. Key informant interviews are also conducted regularly to capture the opinions and perspectives of partnership leaders related to the changes. 


The SPCF has allowed evaluators to collect data on final outcomes and the estimated impact of these outcomes; track progress towards outcomes; discover successful strategies employed by partnerships; better understand contextual factors; and identify champions and strategic partners involved. Examples of outcomes common across several partnerships include changing school food procurement policies to favor healthier local food, updating zoning laws to encourage community and home gardens, expanding SNAP and WIC acceptance at farmer’s markets, and construction of walking trails and bike lanes. Successful outcomes and strategies will be presented.       


As more and more public health initiatives include policy and environmental change components, there is a growing need for tools to track these outcomes. Methods used in the Food & Fitness evaluation could serve as a model for other public health interventions.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify challenges in evaluating policy and environmental change components of public health initiatives. Discuss methods used to evaluate policy and environmental change initiatives.

Keyword(s): Evaluation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have served as a project director for several policy and environmental change initiatives over the last several years. I am an evaluation specialist in policy and environmental change. I have been working in the field of public health for over 20 years. During this time I have led obesity prevention initiatives in Chicago and Michigan. I have also worked in the US Senate and House of Representatives.
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.