Introducing a Healthy Food Access Survey Webinar

March 17, 2016 - Kathryn Colasanti, Courtney Pinard

This webinar presents a new draft survey tool for measuring food access and summarizes the process for applying to pilot the survey. The webinar also includes an overview of food access concepts and associated measurement strategies, general tips for conducting surveys and suggested resources for finding other survey tools.

This webinar was given by:

Introducing a Healthy Food Access Survey Webinar Slides

Webinar Transcript:

Kathryn Colasanti: So welcome, my name is Kathryn Colasanti here at and I'm joined, virtually, by Courtney Pinard at the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition Research Science, as well as, here, next to me in the office is Christian Scott, is an intern with us on the Shared Measurement Project right now, and he will be moderating the questions and the comments from all of you. So welcome. This is our fourth in this series of Shared Measurement Training, and we are here today to introduce a food access survey. So without further ado, all right, I will hit a button. So I imagine that many of you have been engaged, at some point, with the Shared Measurement Project or have seen some of our writing about it, but just wanted to start with the big picture of how this fits in with the larger collective impact framework that we've been working on there, and the gist of the impact framework as a way to think about how all of the different organizations that have overlapping and related goals can work together more synergistically and more effectively for greater impact, and shared measurement is one of the criteria in the collective impact framework, with the idea that if we can track our progress in a common way and identify shared measures, then we can be more effective in measuring the impact of our work and compare and contrast a crossed organizations, aggregate across organizations, and state a common language when we're talking about the results of our work. So Courtney is going to share just a little bit of background on the shared measurement project and how we got to where we are today with this webinar.

Courtney Pinard: Yeah, so not to go over into much, as many of you were aware of the process over the last year or so. There was a series of interviews and surveys we conducted with partners like yourself and found that areas of interest for shared measurement laid in economic impact of local food systems, institutional procurement, and access to healthy foods and related behaviors, and how we kind of narrowed our way to focus on how the food access for the pilot was just the landscape and existing programs going on, including Cultivate Michigan, really as a leader in institutional procurement and aligning well with shared measures, and then building capacity around economic impact is kind of where were starting with that piece, and some of you are probably involved with the training, and just the Center for Regional Food Systems really started to build capacity in order to assess that more effectively across the state, and so then healthy food access really laid out there as an area that cross cut many different organizations, and also, kind of showed us a need for primary data collection. So, next slide. A quick reminder. Some of the original goals of the Shared Measures Project in working through this Collective Impact framework was to empower communities and organizations to really understand food access better able to address it in their work more effectively, as well as establishing these protocols for assessing healthy food access that can be replicated again and again throughout the state otherwise and really pulling from those best practices as much as possible, and then building capacity for data collection in general is a really important piece, because the grassroots organizations out there do really great work in being able to demonstrate that impact, not only as a single organization, but then across multiple organizations, is a really effective tool for policy and gaining more funding. So next slide, we'll just give a quick outline. Okay, so then today we've already gone over a little bit of the background, but Kathryn will talk more about how we defined and how we typically measured food access, and then overview of what our pilot is going to look like over the next year or so, and this includes cognitive interviewing, which we're doing right now, and Christian's been leading that up, to establish the tools, as a really sound and powerful tool to measure what we're intending, as well as how we'll implement that survey tool through this RFA process that some of you might be aware of, and then we'll go through each of the scales and questions from the survey tool describing, you know why, we're being included, and what we hope to gain from it, and I'll mention a few additional scales and how we have flexibility built into this pilot. It's not just the questions that are in the core survey, but will have opportunities to measure things that are pertinent to various organizations, and then we'll provide just some basic tips for how we conduct surveys in communities and how we can find other survey tools if, you know, food access isn't our core focus, and then, like I mentioned, will go over the RFA and have some time for questions, and throughout, could you please use the question and answer or chat function, and Christian will keep an eye on that, and we'll try and loopback multiple times throughout the presentation. So I'll pass it back to Kathryn, and she'll go over some food access models.

Kathryn Colasanti: Okay, thank you, Courtney, and I did see one of our participants, Bridget Hope, it looks like you raise your hand. So if there's a question or comment, please put that in the chat box or the Q&A box, and we can respond accordingly. All right. So before we get into, like Courtney said, the specific survey tool and the details of the requests for applications, I wanted to just talk a little bit about the concept of food access. It's a term if you're in this work, you tend to use a lot. We tend to use a lot, and I think we tend to think of it as something simple, but it's actually quite complex. So I just wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about the different components of food access and different measurement approaches, and we'll pause again after this section for any questions or comments, and again, I want to say, this is a working model that we have been in the process of developing with our advisory committee for the Shared Measurement Project, but we really welcome any comments, questions, feedback on this model, healthy food access. But fundamentally, the idea of access has been defined as the ability to benefit from something. So I think we tend to think maybe of access and either having enough food to eat or as the presence of an adequate number of grocery stores in a given area, but either of those things alone aren't necessarily the full concept of access in terms of the actual ability to obtain, to purchase, to eat, and experience some of the health outcomes from healthy food. So if we break down some of the dimensions, we can think first about just the availability of stores. So are there stores nearby? Is the number of stores adequate to serve the population? Is there an appropriate mix of store types? You'll see studies that look at the ratio of what might be termed healthy food retail outlets versus convenience stores, versus fast food restaurants. Common methodologies, use spatial analyses to look up the location of stores, versus population centers of census tracks or neighborhood, ratio of store types, they mentioned, and also utilize surveys, interviews, or focus groups to ask people their perceived store availability. So are they aware of stores in their neighborhood? Store adequacy, that goes beyond just the physical presence of the store to look at the characteristics of a store. So are there stores that are selling an appropriate variety of high-quality, healthy food at affordable prices, and again, even just that question embeds several concepts like variety, quality, affordability. Are the stores selling culturally appropriate food for residents of that are area? A residents comfortable shopping in the stores? What's the level of customer service? What are the relationships like between store customers and store owners? Are stores accepting food assistance benefits, SNAP, WIC, or other programs? Some methodologies here involve store assessments. So actually going into a store and looking at the variety, quality, or prices of foods being sold. You could look at just the number of SNAP or WIC licensed stores in a given area, and then, again, could talk to residents directly through surveys, interviews, or focus groups and ask them perceptions of the adequacy of stores. The next piece in this working model is on socio-demographics. So what are the characteristics of residents themselves? So assuming there are stores present, assuming the stores are adequate or are providing good, healthy options, do residents have the ability to get there, and do they have the resources to afford the food that is being sold? So what's the level of car ownership, for example? What's the level of food insecurity? Do residents just, in general, have the resources they need to access the available food? This could involve a secondary data analysis, poverty rates, food insecurity, car ownership; a lot of that data is found in the census, and then again, asking people on the perceived ease of accessing healthy food. It sounds like we have a question.

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