Challenges And Lessons Learned From Communities Using Evidence To Adopt Strategies To Improve Healthy Food Environments
Author: Julie A. Willems Van Dijk, Bridget Catlin, Abbey Cofsky, Carrie Carroll
Communities across the United States are increasingly tackling the complex task of changing their local environments and cultures to improve access to and consumption of healthy food. Communities that have received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize have deployed numerous evidence-informed strategies to enhance their local food environments. Their experiences can provide lessons for other communities working to improve health. In this article we examine how the prize-winning communities worked in a multidisciplinary collective manner to implement evidence-based strategies, deployed suites of strategies to expand the reach of food-related work, balanced evidence against innovation, and measured their own progress. Most of the communities also faced challenges in using evidence effectively to implement strategies to promote healthy food environments. Policy makers can accelerate the adoption of evidence-informed approaches related to food and health by embedding them in program standards and funding requirements. Establishing opportunities for ongoing training to enhance community practitioners’ evaluation skills and collaborative leadership would also improve the effectiveness of community implementation of these strategies.