The qualitative and quantitative methodologies we have developed capture accomplishments, challenges, lessons learned, best practices and outcomes from initiatives focused on environmental, policy and systems change in a variety of sectors. We have extensive experience tailoring data collection methods for diverse geographies, cultures, languages, and demographics. Below is a list of our current and past research and evaluation projects.
Integrating Quality Improvement and Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Opportunities in Early Care in Marin County
Marin Community Foundation
Samuels Center currently oversees the evaluation for the Access to Quality Child Care and Healthy Eating Active Living projects, a multi-year initiative funded by the Marin Community Foundation to improve child care quality and healthy eating and physical activity policies, practices, and environments in licensed child care settings in Marin County. The objectives of the initiative are achieved through receipt of child care subsidies, on-site provider technical assistance, parent and child care provider training, educational workshops, and peer to peer learning opportunities. As the evaluator, we are designing an evaluation plan employing a mixed-method approach consisting of focus groups with participating parents and child care providers, interviews with key stakeholders, and a quantitative analysis of family and parent programmatic and demographic data. Analyses will be conducted to understand ways in which this investment impacts the lives of targeted low-income/low-wage families in their efforts to move toward economic self-sufficiency, to understand how it affects quality improvement, nutrition, and physical activity policies and practices in child care sites, and how lessons learned inform future work in integrating and aligning quality care and healthy eating and physical activity interventions in early care and education settings, while additionally improving access to health-promoting and high-quality care for young children in Marin.
Evaluation of the Mandela/Credibles SNAP Incentive Program
Mandela/Credibles SNAP Incentive Program is a multi-sector, evidence-based approach to increase the purchase and consumption of locally-sourced fruits and vegetables by low-income Alameda County, California SNAP-eligible consumers. We are working with the Mandela MarketPlace project team to develop and implement an evaluation plan and provide evaluation support to answer the overarching question:
What is the impact of Mandela/Credibles SNAP Incentive Program on patient’s social outcomes and health as measured by changes in obesity/diabetes markers, BMI and perceptions related to healthy food access?
This 3-year evaluation will include an intervention and control group with random enrollment and delayed intervention. A matched pair pre-post survey design will assess participant demographics and perceptions on personal health, social benefits, and access to healthy food. BMI and serum obesity markers will be collected by participant’s provider, and Credibles participation reports will collect redemption rates and types of food purchased.
Reducing Early Childhood Obesity (RECO) Collective Impact Evaluation
We are partnering with Abt Associates on the Reducing Early Childhood Obesity (RECO) Collective Impact Evaluation to examine the collective impact of First 5 LA investments in lowering the rates of childhood obesity in LA County. As part of this multi-faceted evaluation, we are working to describe the extent to which First 5 LA RECO investments are reaching the intended beneficiaries. This involves collecting detailed information about the scope of First 5 LA RECO investments through grantee reports and in-depth interviews in order to assess the experiences of participants and providers relative to the investments, and examining implementation successes and challenges, for individual investments and collectively across the RECO investments.
Evaluation for the Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (CO4F)
A public-private partnership fund, CO4F was established principally to make financing available for grocers that offer affordable and nutritious foods in areas where such goods are scarce.We are providing evaluation services to assess CO4F in terms of what is working and what is not, what changes are occurring in the funded stores and communities, and how this is impacting the habits of consumers. Overall, the evaluation will assess the effectiveness and influence of the CO4F initiative.
Merced Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH)
Merced County Public Health Department, CDC PICH
We are partnering with the Merced County Public Health Department to evaluate their 3-year Partnership for Health – Merced County project which builds upon CA4Health’s established partnerships and accomplishments to increase tobacco- and smoke-free environments; increase healthy foods and beverage environments; increase physical activity; and increase opportunities for prevention of chronic disease through community-clinical linkages in selected communities and county-wide. Strategies selected are a combination of expected policy achievements to decrease exposure to health risks and increase options for healthy choices, community plans to guide future resource development that will increase healthy food and physical activity resources and systems changes to increase access to chronic disease prevention services. Weaving these efforts together will be a multi-language and multi-venue communication effort that will aim to heighten the awareness of the costs of high rates of chronic disease, promote the strategies required to improve community health and celebrate the successes of the PHMC partnership.
Cultiva LaSalud Evaluation
Public Health Institute, CDC REACH
We will be partnering with the Public Health Institute to evaluate their 3-year Cultiva LaSalud project, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) initiative. Cultiva LaSalud builds upon the foundation created through PHI’s Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP), established in 2005 with funding from The California Endowment. Cultiva LaSalud will work in Fresno, Kern and Stanislaus counties in six largely Latino neighborhoods and communities including Southeast Fresno, Orange Cove, Southeast Bakersfield, Arvin, Ceres and Turlock. Cultiva LaSalud, Spanish for “cultivate health,” will increase access to healthy food and beverage options as well as opportunities for physical activity among area Latinos. The project works in partnership with the Delores Huerta Foundation and the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children.
USDA FNS Study on Nutrition and Wellness Quality in Child Care Settings with Abt Associates
Samuels Center is currently working with Abt Associates on the USDA Food and Nutrition Service funded project, a 5-year national study to examine the quality of foods and wellness policies in various child care settings (including both participating and non-participating CACFP centers and homes). The study incorporates a mixed methods approach to describing the dietary intake of infants and children in and outside of childcare, to assessing the feasibility of collecting such data in family day care homes, to examining the costs and revenues of serving CACFP meals, and to assessing plate waste among CACFP participating providers. As part of this multifaceted research, Samuels Center is leading the design and analysis of the evaluation of child care wellness policies, which will involve developing instruments and data collection procedures to train data collectors to observe childcare nutrition and physical activity environments among a nationally representative sample of child care environments.
Choose Health LA Child Care: Early Childhood Obesity Prevention and the Potential for Policy, Practice, and Environmental Change in Early Care
Samuels Center is currently collaborating with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on the Choose Health LA Child Care program; a program funded by First 5 Los Angeles and part of a 5-year countywide initiative to prevent early childhood obesity. This program provides nutrition and physical activity trainings, one-on-one coaching, and technical assistance to licensed and license-exempt child care providers in Los Angeles County to foster development and implementation of nutrition and PA policies and environmental changes. As an evaluating partner, we helped develop a comprehensive evaluation plan to assess the impact of these efforts in child care settings. Our center was responsible for conducting and analyzing results from pre- and post-observational assessments and post-only focus groups among participating providers to understand ways in which nutrition and physical activity policy, practices, and environments changed as a result of the program, the successes and challenges to implementing changes, and provider thoughts about ways to improve the nutrition and physical activity training and coaching. The final report will help guide future LA County Public Health obesity prevention work.
ECOSyS Childhood Obesity Systems Science Study
University of California, Los Angeles
Co-Principal Investigators at UCLA, May Choo Wang, DrPH and Michael Prelip, PhD, are applying a novel causal inference and systems science modeling to assess the independent and combined effects of obesity-related public policies and community interventions on obesity in preschool-aged children in LA County, while considering community characteristics. Sallie is participating on one of 2 work groups to identify constructs and domains relevant to assessing the effects of policy-related activities and programs that influence early childhood obesity (e.g., resources, capacity, intervention activities, built environment changes), develop rating criteria, and develop list of variables for measuring constructs/domains.
Choose Health L.A. Child Care
First 5 Los Angeles
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Division of Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (LACDPH) was awarded a grant from First 5 Los Angeles to provide nutrition and physical activity trainings and technical assistance to licensed and license-exempt child care providers in Los Angeles County. Through LA ROCCS, LACDPH hopes to improve nutrition and physical activity environments in child care settings through organizational policy and environmental changes. The Samuels Center is partnering with LACDPH to develop an evaluation plan to assess the obesity prevention interventions in these child care settings. The comprehensive evaluation plan will be informed by stakeholders in both the public health and child care fields and will aim to determine the impact of LA ROCCS. The evaluation will be conducted by LACDPH and its partners, and the Samuels Center will then synthesize the evaluation data and submit a final evaluation report which will help guide future LACDPH obesity prevention initiatives.
Mobilizing Child Care Providers in Cultivating Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Opportunities in Los Angeles County
Samuels Center was contracted in 2015-2016 by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Choose Health LA Child Care program (part of a countywide initiative to prevent early childhood obesity) to evaluate their efforts to improve nutrition and physical activity practices in child care settings via the provision of training and coaching to licensed center and home providers to create and adopt nutrition and physical activity policies. We designed, implemented, and analyzed findings from a series of focus groups with providers who received training and coaching to understand ways in which to engage providers in creating healthy food and physical activity environments through policy, systems, and environmental changes.
Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Opportunities at Child Care Settings in Los Angeles County: Findings from Choose Health LA Child Care Observational Assessments
Samuels Center was commissioned by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Choose Health LA Child Care program (part of a countywide initiative to prevent early childhood obesity) from 2014-2016 to design and implement an observational assessment plan to understand the ways in which nutrition and physical activity policy, practices, and environments changed as a result of the training and coaching provided by the program. The evaluation plan also included a qualitative examination of the barriers and facilitators child care providers experienced in promoting nutrition and physical activity at their site. A series of onsite observational assessments coupled with provider interviews identified changes to food and physical activity environments and meal-related practices and behaviors of child care staff and children.
Access to Quality Child Care Strategic Initiative in Marin Count
Marin Community Foundation
Samuels Center was commissioned by the Marin Community Foundation to evaluate the Access to Quality Child Care strategic initiative. The initiative supports early care and education and quality improvement for child care programs, providers, and low-income/low-wage families in Marin County. Samuels Center employed a participatory mixed-method evaluation design consisting of focus groups with parents and child care providers, interviews with key stakeholders, and secondary analysis of family and parent programmatic and demographic data to understand ways the investment impacts the lives of low-income/low-wage families, affects quality improvement in child care sites, and informs future work in improving access to high-quality care for young children and family economic self-sufficiency.
Evaluation of the Hidden Villa Internship Program
Samuels Center partnered with Hidden Villa, a nonprofit educational organization, to evaluate its Internship Program. Using a mixed-method design, we designed and conducted a survey and group discussion with former Hidden Villa interns to measure the impact of the program on participants, including interns’ leadership and career development.
California Friday Night Live Program Evaluation
California Friday Night Live Partnership, Tulare County Office of Education
Samuels Center staff is worked with the California Friday Night Live partnership to provide evaluation services, as well as evaluation training and technical assistance, to their statewide network of youth leadership programs. Friday Night Live Youth leaders work in 54 counties to create school and community change related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention. We supported the administration of a statewide evaluation survey, analyzed survey data, created evaluation reports for each county, and developed tools and training to support youth and adults to use evaluation data for program improvement.
Los Angeles Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Program (NEOP) Large Retail Store Intercept Surveys
As part of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Division’s NEOP program, we are conducting 1,000 – 1,500 intercept surveys with store customers and environmental assessments of 5-10 large chain store settings where NEOP programming is being implemented. The surveys will assess store patron’s perceptions about access to healthy food and beverages and investigate the factors that may hinder or support healthy eating behaviors.
Heart to Heart Evaluation
LifeLong Medical Care
Samuels Center is partnering with the City of Berkeley and LifeLong Medical Care to evaluate the Heart to Heart (H2H) program. The goal of H2H is to address health inequities while preventing high blood pressure and heart disease in South Berkeley. H2H serves as a bridge between the community, programs, resources, and services to address the needs of community members. Samuels Center is collaborating with H2H partners to conduct focus groups throughout the targeted neighborhoods of South Berkeley to assess how the program has affected the community, how H2H has engaged community residents, and how H2H can better serve the overall community and its residents.
Evaluation of the California FreshWorks Fund Initiative
The California Endowment
In partnership with The Food Trust and Pacific Community Ventures, we are using a multi-method approach including key informant interviews, intercept and online surveys, environmental assessments, GIS mapping, and analysis of sales and contextual data to describe the outcomes, change process, complex change mechanisms, unanticipated outcomes, and challenges to CFWF, as well as a robust economic analysis to illustrate change, document outcomes, and make the case to key stakeholders and policymakers. This evaluation will 1) document the processes to build the business case for CFWF; 2) assess CFWF’s economic and health impact of new retail food stores in City Heights and Inglewood on their residents; 3) measure the entirety of TCE’s investment through the CFWF; and 4) measure implementation and impacts of innovative approaches.
From the Ground Up: Cultivating Cooperative and Community Farms
Center for Race, Poverty, and the Environment (CRPE)
The Center for Race, Poverty, and the Environment was awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support the development of community gardens and a small community farm in three San Joaquin Valley communities. Although agriculture is the primary employer in many San Joaquin towns, lower income residents often do not have access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. The CRPE gardens and farms address that issue, while also building capacity among interested participants to become involved in other community issues, such as environmental justice concerns. To evaluate the initiative, the Samuels Center visited the sites, conducted interviews with key informants representing a variety of stakeholder groups, and conducted a survey of garden and farm participants.
Healthy Vending in Low-Wage Worksites Study
Public Health Institute
Samuels Center is partnering with the Network for a Healthy California of the California Department of Public Health to study healthy vending in low-wage worksites. We are designing and conducting a study to examine the effects of a defined marketing strategy on sales of healthy items from worksite vending machines. This research includes intercept surveys and analysis of sales data to determine the effects of the intervention on attitudes toward healthy eating, sales of healthy foods and beverages, and overall vending sales.
LAUSD Cool Playgrounds
Los Angeles Union School District
Samuels Center is working with partners at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in order to evaluate the outcomes of a playground improvement project. They will be assessing the effects of changing the playground environment through repainting with light and heat reflective paint that will reduce temperatures in the play spaces during physical education and recess. They are measuring temperatures at various locations throughout the playground, activity levels of students during physical education, recess and after school programs, as well as resulting students’ behavior and injury records. This pilot evaluation will inform possible playground improvements around LAUSD, California, and other areas in the nation that deal with heat during spring, summer and fall months.
Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) Obesity & Tobacco Evaluation – Santa Clara County, California
Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System
This multi-method evaluation was designed to document progress in implementing key strategies, policy development and adoption, and impact. The evaluation described the initiative’s accomplishments, challenges, lessons learned, and best practices.
Evaluation of the Network for a Healthy California’s African-American Campaign
Network for a Healthy California
Samuels Center worked with the Network for a Healthy California to gather information on the Network’s African-American Campaign to measure awareness and readiness for the next phase of the Campaign’s work. Samuels Center worked to develop, pilot and administer an innovative and culturally-appropriate qualitative interview tool. In-depth interviews were conducted with stakeholders in the African-American Campaign throughout the state of California.
Building Healthy Communities Parent Engagement
Public Health Institute
We conducted a pre-post test survey for parents that have completed a 6-week training of the “Parent lesson plans: advocating for healthier school environments”, led by California Project LEAN. We also conducted focus groups to understand parents’ perceptions and opinions of their capacity and confidence to advocate for the implementation, monitoring and/or revision of their local school wellness policies (SWP), as a result of the training and application of their knowledge and skills in actual hands-on activities. The assessment also sought to understand the barriers and facilitators parents face when engaging in SWP advocacy work as well as the types of additional support or resources parents need to strengthen their capacity to do this work.
IMPAQ International, LLC.
Through a contract with USDA, Food and Nutrition Section, and in collaboration with IMPAQ International, we conducted market research, environmental scans and ethnographic surveys to ascertain the most effective designs and tools for delivering child-focused, school-based nutrition education using new technologies that improves the food choices and other nutrition-related behaviors of low-income children. The findings from this project were used to inform federal nutrition education policy and programs, aid in the development of nutrition education guidance and communication strategies, inform the development of new and effective nutrition education interventions targeting behavior change, and used social media and other new communication technologies to develop new nutrition education materials and programs to communicate the principles of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.
Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW)
California Project Lean
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, The CA Department of Public Health received funding through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” (CPPW) – an effort to build capacity at the state and local levels for instituting chronic disease prevention policies. The California CPPW program focused on two policy areas: creating healthier food environments by reducing the prevalence of sugar-sweetened beverages, and enhancing access to physical activity through joint use policies and agreements. Samuels Center evaluated the sugar-sweetened beverage and joint use policy work. A multi-method evaluation was designed to document progress in implementing key strategies at the state and local levels, measure changes in policy development and adoption, and examine impacts of adopted policies. The evaluation described the initiative’s accomplishments, challenges, lessons learned, and best practices. The evaluation plan included both short-term and intermediate outcomes, and the evaluation design is driven by several overarching research questions.
The City Project
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living Research (ALR)
Samuels Center worked with The City Project in Los Angeles to monitor the implementation of a physical education motion that was passed in 2009 requiring stricter physical education standards in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). We documented the process that took place in order to pass the motion as well as visiting schools in LAUSD to assess and monitor the implementation and outcomes of the physical education motion.
Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC)
Children’s Memorial Hospital
CLOCC was a seven-year old nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program housed within the Center for Obesity Management and Prevention (COMP) at the Children’s Memorial Research Hospital. It was a data-driven effort that brings together more than 800 organizations, with a common goal of protecting Chicago children from the obesity epidemic. Samuels Center used a multi-method approach to evaluate CLOCC’s effectiveness as a collaborative and impact on community based environmental and policy change strategies.
Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP)
Olmsted County Public Health Services (OCPHS)
Samuels Center worked with the Olmsted County Public Health Services (OCPHS) to evaluate the impact of their SHIP grant. Eight of their twelve interventions focused on diminishing the county’s chronic disease burden through increasing physical activity and access to healthy foods. The interventions utilized policy, systems and environmental changes in four settings in Olmsted: schools, work sites, health care and community. We used a number of evaluation methods across sectors and organizations to examine key aspects of the process as well as outcomes. The evaluation employed a multi-method, participatory design to describe the current environments, assess changes made to and within these settings, discuss challenges encountered and successes achieved, and summarize lessons learned and best practices that emerge from OCPHS’s work. This approach helped describe the nature of the problem of obesity in Olmsted and provide data to define obesity prevention as a place-based issue in Minnesota.
Evaluation of the Smart Menu/Salud Tiene Sabor Menu Labeling Campaign in South Los Angeles, Salud America!
The California Endowment
Samuels Center, in partnership with Public Health Institute, Healthy Eating Active Communities and Esperanza Community Housing evaluated the impact of Smart Menu/La Salud Tiene Sabor menu labeling program. La Salud Tiene Sabor was adopted by Mercado la Paloma, a group of seven independently-owned restaurants, to empower South Los Angeles residents to make healthy food choices via access to healthy menu items and nutrition information. The Smart Menu evaluation was a collaboration of restaurant owners, research and community-based organizations and the LA County Public Health Dept. The study assessed the effect of menu labeling and nutrition information on families’ purchase intention and meal choices, and on restaurant vendor practices and sales. Evaluation methodologies included patron awareness assessments, environmental assessments, stakeholder surveys, sales tracking analysis, secondary data analyses, and media analysis.
S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation
Samuels Center provided consulting services to the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation for the Oakland Unified School District Wellness Champion Initiative. Services included: formative research to identify priority issues and approaches, development and issuance of an RFP, proposal review and revisions, making funding recommendations, convening grantees on a regular basis, tracking grantee progress, connecting grantees to the broader obesity prevention community and movement, management of the grantee technical assistance team, coordination with the Initiative’s external evaluator, disseminating the Initiative’s successes and lessons learned, and building of partnerships and collaborations with other funders.
The Impact of a New Full Service Grocery Store on Two Low-Income Communities of Color
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment
Samuels Center, in partnership with PolicyLink, Field Research Corporation, UC Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health, The Southeast Food Access Working Group (SEFA), and Community Health Councils (CHC) were funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment to examine the impact of a new full-service grocery store in low-income multi-ethnic neighborhoods in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The study included measures of healthy food availability, food purchasing and eating practices of neighborhood residents, and community perceptions and attitudes towards the new supermarket.
Healthy Eating Active Communities (HEAC) Initiative
The California Endowment
Samuels Center was involved in designing this $26.2 million initiative of The California Endowment focusing on reducing disparities in obesity and diabetes by improving food and physical activity environments for school-age children. The initiative concentrated on five sectors: schools, after-school, neighborhoods, health care, and marketing and advertising. Samuels Center served as the lead evaluator, in collaboration with UC Berkeley Center for Weight and Health and UCLA School of Public Health, in a participatory, multi-level evaluation within and across the five sectors of HEAC, measuring changes in the food and physical activity environments in each sector in the Endowment’s six healthy eating and physical activity collaboratives located throughout California.
Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP), Evaluation
The California Endowment
The Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP) was an initiative funded by The California Endowment that focused on improving the social and physical environments for healthy nutrition and physical activity in the San Joaquin Valley. Eight health departments and their community partners collaborated to change these environments through advocacy, policy, and systems change efforts. Samuels Center conducted the evaluation of the program, including development of a regional logic model, environmental assessments, stakeholder surveys, policy tracking and a variety of other evaluation methods.
Healthy Foods and Beverages in Child Care Settings
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Healthy Eating Research Program
Samuels Center, in partnership with California Food Policy Advocates and UC Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health, was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to conduct a study of the foods and beverages offered to children ages 3-5 years in child care settings (licensed family day care homes and centers) in California. UC Berkeley, Samuels Center and CFPA conducted a self-administered statewide survey of childcare providers regarding the foods and beverages offered to young children in their care, conducted stakeholder interviews of key state and federal administrators, advocates, sponsors and policymakers, and convened experts to help develop policy recommendations to improve the foods and beverages offered in child care settings.
USDA Commodities Processing: Impact on School Meal Nutritional Quality and Cost
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Healthy Eating Research Program
This project was the next step to an earlier study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to look at the ways in which the commodities food program can help make school meals healthier. For this study, Samuels Center worked with California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) and UC Berkeley’s Center for Weight & Health to identify policy opportunities to ensure that schools use commodity foods to offer the most nutritious meals at the lowest cost. The study compared the nutrient profiles of commodity foods processed into heat and serve entrees with entrees prepared on-site from minimally processed commodities (scratch cooked), identify cost differences between the two methods, and examine differences in the overall nutritional quality of menus served in districts using heat and serve versus scratch cooked entrees. Participating school districts were selected from four counties in California and were matched for size, free and reduced price meal eligibility and ethnic diversity.
Food and Beverage Environment Analysis and Monitoring System (FoodBEAMS)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The Food and Beverage Environment Analysis and Monitoring System (Food BEAMS) was a web-based tool developed by Samuels Center primarily used to aid public health professionals and school administrators in monitoring implementation of school nutrition policies for competitive foods and beverages sold on campus. FoodBEAMS used an observational data collection methodology to accurately catalogue competitive foods and beverages sold on school campuses, linked to a nutrient database of competitive foods and beverages, and assess their adherence to food and beverage standards.
Eat Well Berkeley Neighbor Store Project
City of Berkeley
The City of Berkeley Health and Human Services Department worked to improve access to healthier foods through the Eat Well Berkeley Neighbor Store Project. Evaluation of this project included assessments of the type of snack foods and beverages sold at small stores located near schools, intercept surveys with youth patronizing the stores to assess frequency of store visits and purchasing behavior, self-administered student surveys that examined student perceptions and attitudes around food sold in neighborhood stores, and a store owner survey.
Evaluation of Padres FriarFit Initiative
The California Endowment
Samuels Center, in collaboration with AACORN, received funding from The California Endowment to evaluate a multi-year healthy food and fitness initiative called San Diego Padres FriarFit. FriarFit is focused on offering healthier foods and beverages and increasing opportunities for physical activity at the ballpark in San Diego. FriarFit also works with local schools to increase physical activity among students in San Diego county. As part of the evaluation, Samuels Center conducted food, beverage and physical activity environmental assessments and stakeholder interviews with ballpark administrators and other key individuals involved in the initiative.
Continuation of the Study of the Commodities Food Program in Schools
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
This project was the continuation of an earlier study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in conjunction with California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) to look at the ways that the commodities food program can help to make school meals healthier. Under this continuation of the original study, Samuels Center is assisting CFPA in translating the original findings into technical assistance materials for school districts in order to support decision makers in making healthier choices for school meals; assisting school districts and advocates to monitor and track the impact of commodities on school meal programs for the purpose of advocating for improvements; developing standards by which commodities processing may be governed and further dissemination of the study findings.
Community Advocacy Initiative Evaluation
Health Funders Partnership; Prevention Institute
The Health Funders Partnership, a consortium of funders, funded five grantees in Orange County, CA to develop and implement policy approaches to prevent and reduce the risk for obesity and improve nutrition and physical activity environments. Samuels Center conducted the evaluation and provided technical assistance in evaluation to the grantees. As part of the same initiative, Samuels Center also collaborated with the Prevention Institute (Oakland, CA) to provide technical assistance to the grantees on developing and carrying out their environmental change strategies.
Senior Nutrition Evaluation
Council on Aging, Silicon Valley
Samuels Center conducted a multi-method evaluation of senior nutrition programs in Santa Clara County, California. The evaluation was funded by the Council on Aging, Silicon Valley, in partnership with The Health Trust and assessed the extent to which the Congregate Meal Program and Home Delivered Meal Program met the needs of seniors. The evaluation employed a variety of methodologies including stakeholder and provider interviews, participant focus groups, analysis of secondary data sources, and a literature review and cost analysis to document the successes and challenges experienced by the programs, and opportunities, strategies and barriers for improving senior nutrition.
Fit for Learning Program Evaluation
Santa Clara County Office of Education
Samuels Center conducted an evaluation of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Fit for Learning Initiative, a countywide effort to create school environments that promote healthy eating and physical activity for the children of Santa Clara County. The program was provided by the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) in cooperation with Healthy Silicon Valley and The Health Trust.
School Health Leadership Institute
Starting in 2003, a number of school health leadership institutes were conducted across California to educate and engage school districts around implementing coordinated school health within their districts. In order to evaluate the impact of the school health leadership institutes, Samuels Center conducted a stakeholder survey of a sample of institute participants. This survey was designed to assess participants’ perceptions of the usefulness of the institutes and how they have applied the knowledge gained through their participation in the Institute.
Physical Activity Assessment
The California Endowment
Samuels Center collaborated with the UCLA School of Public Health on a study funded by The California Endowment on disparities in school physical activity and physical education. The study compared physical education and physical activity opportunities in schools that report high scores on the California student FITNESSGRAM compared to school districts that report low student FITNESSGRAM scores.
Agricultural Workers Health Initiative Policy Evaluation
The California Endowment
Samuels Center, in partnership with Abundantia Consulting, evaluated policy strategies adopted by community grantees funded by The California Endowment to do demonstration projects under its Agricultural Workers Health Initiative. The Initiative’s goals were to achieve optimal health for agricultural workers, their families and their communities.
Student Self-Efficacy Assessment
Samuels Center conducted an evaluation of the impact of the Sports4Kids play-based school and after-school programs on youth. Samuels Center trained Sports4Kids instructors to administer a survey assessing students’ perceptions of the program and comfort initiating play before and after exposure to the Sports4Kids program in 12 San Jose schools. Sports4Kids works to increase opportunities for safe, meaningful play, particularly in low-income communities.
Implementation of SB 12 & SB 965
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Samuels Center, in partnership with UC Berkeley, Center for Weight and Health and California Project LEAN, conducted a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of the implementation in state schools of two laws passed in the 2005 California legislature that set nutrition standards in state schools: SB12, which sets nutritional standards that limit the calories and sugar content kids consume, and SB965, which extends an existing ban on selling carbonated drinks to high schools.
Commodities in the Schools
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Samuels Center, in partnership with California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to conduct a study of how commodities have shaped the healthfulness of what is served for breakfast and lunch in the National School Meal Program. Samuels Center and CFPA conducted quantitative analyses of the foods available to and ordered by schools, held focus groups to understand the influence of commodities on lunches from the Food Services perspective, and convened experts to help develop policy recommendations to improve the role of commodities in school meals.
National Meeting on School Nutrition/Physical Activity Policy Evaluation & Measurement
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The California Endowment
In 2004, Samuels Center convened a meeting on evaluating school nutrition and physical activity policies for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment to inform the field about the best methods for evaluating changes in school food and physical activity environments. The final report contains a framework and recommendations for evaluating school nutrition and physical activity policies.
Implementation of State Nutrition Standards Under SB 19: A Randomized Study
National Institutes of Health, The California Endowment
The California State Legislature’s Pupil Nutrition, Health, and Achievement Act of 2001, SB-19, passed in 2003, set minimum nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold on elementary and middle school campuses. Samuels Center, in conjunction with WestEd, UCLA and the UC Berkeley Center on Weight and Health, conducted a process evaluation of the implementation of SB 19 nutrition standards in 28 elementary and middle school sites in California in 2004 in tandem with a randomized, controlled outcome evaluation trial undertaken by WestEd and UCLA. The NIH-funded evaluation measured body composition (BMI), aerobic capacity, blood pressure, and selected diet, physical activity and weight control behaviors. The California Endowment also funded pieces of the process evaluation, including student surveys, stakeholder surveys and policy tracking. The evaluations aimed to test and measure the impact on students and schools of efforts to change California’s school nutrition environment before the changes were made statewide.
The Impact of Removing Sweetened Beverages from High School Campuses: A Randomized Study
National Institutes of Health, The California Endowment
In partnership with UC Berkeley Center on Weight and Health, the NIH, and the California Endowment, Samuels Center assessed the impact of a three-year intervention pilot program removing sugar-sweetened beverages from two high school campuses in California. In addition, Samuels Center and UC Berkeley Center on Weight and Health conducted cases studies of school districts that had adopted policies eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages from their campuses. These research activities described the effect of removing sugar-sweetened beverages from school campuses on total daily consumption of sweetened beverages, on body mass index (BMI) and percent body fat, and on changes in obesity. They also assessed the attitudes of those affected, described institutional barriers to and the economic impact of removing the beverages, and portrayed the impact of the intervention on school meal participation rates and a la carte food sales.
Diabetes’ Data to Action Project Evaluation
Alameda County Public Health Department
Samuels Center, in conjunction with Gardiner & Associates, evaluated the Alameda County Public Health Department’s Data to Action Project. High rates of diabetes in Alameda County led County health officers to undertake the “Data to Action” program to generate data that could activate communities to address diabetes-related health disparities. The evaluation assessed the four components of the diabetes program: data collection, community involvement, diabetes case management, and redefining the health department’s framework for addressing health disparities.
Fast Food Sales in Public High Schools (2000) and Marketing and Advertising in Public High Schools (2006)
The California Endowment
In 2001 Samuels Center, along with California Project LEAN, developed and conducted a survey to categorize the nutritional value of fast foods sold in public high schools across California. The results of this survey helped to inform statewide legislation, passed in 2005, that set standards for all foods and beverages commonly sold on school campuses. In 2006, Samuels Center and Project LEAN, with underwriting from The California Endowment, conducted a survey that assessed the prevalence of unhealthy food and beverage marketing on 20 high school campuses in 13 counties across California. Food and Beverage Marketing on California High School Campuses was published in 2006.
Diabetes Prevention Demonstration Projects Evaluation
The California Endowment
Samuels Center worked with San Francisco State University and Aguirre International on a 30-month evaluation of eight diabetes prevention demonstration projects funded by the California Endowment in 11 counties. The goal of these eight projects was to reduce health disparities in African-American, Latino, Native-American, Filipino and Vietnamese communities through diabetes education, treatment, and disease management strategies. Guided by a multi-disciplinary, multi-ethnic Advisory Committee, the evaluation documented what occurred on the community, institutional, and policy levels as a result of program efforts and consisted of site visits and environmental scans of the local context; ethno-specific research with program beneficiaries and community members that produced case studies of what diabetes prevention and disease management looks like from a community and cultural perspective; documentation of implementation challenges, solutions, and lessons learned; comparisons of state and regional quantitative data sets to program-specific outcomes; and information-sharing opportunities for grantees to build program capacity.
Physical Activity Campaign Background Research
California Nutrition Network
Samuels Center was contracted by the California Nutrition Network to conduct a literature review and environmental scan to inform the development of a strategic plan for a physical activity promotion campaign aimed at low-income Food Stamp recipients in California. As a part of this planning process, Samuels Center participated in the statewide Physical Activity and Nutrition Integration Committee (PANIC) with representatives from the Cancer Prevention and Nutrition Section of the California Department of Health Services, the Prevention Institute, and representatives from physical activity promotion and research groups throughout California.
Fit WIC Evaluation
With funding from the USDA, Samuels Center evaluated the Fit WIC California Project, a partnership between the California WIC Program and the University of California, Berkeley Center on Weight and Health to incorporate obesity prevention counseling and support into the WIC Program. The Fit WIC Project worked in three pilot locations in California to develop site-specific, community-driven interventions to improve nutrition and physical activity in low-income families participating in WIC. Samuels Center surveyed stakeholders and WIC program directors, tracked program activity at the three WIC locations, and elicited feedback from focus groups with participants at seven local WIC agencies throughout California. This research identified both the barriers and successful community-based strategies for preventing obesity in children under five in low-income and multi-ethnic communities throughout California.
Lessons Learned from Evaluations of Nutrition and Physical Activity Social Marketing Campaigns
UC Davis, Center for the Advanced Study of Nutrition and Social Marketing
In 2000, the University of California, Davis Center for the Advanced Study of Nutrition and Social Marketing commissioned Samuels Center to review the evaluation and social marketing literature pertaining to nutrition and physical activity social marketing campaigns. The resulting paper, Evaluating Nutrition and Physical Activity Social Marketing Campaigns: A Review of the Literature for Use in Community Campaigns, conveyed an understanding of evaluation failures, challenges and successful strategies to overcome these challenges. Samuels Center also served on the Steering Committee for the UC Davis Center.
Cervical Cancer Prevention and Education Initiative
The California Endowment, Los Angeles County Office of Women’s Health, Los Angeles Women’s Foundation
Samuels Center was commissioned to evaluate the Cervical Cancer Prevention and Education Initiative, a comprehensive, multi-faceted outreach and education campaign to increase awareness among high-risk, low-income, underserved women of color about the importance of Pap tests in the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer and to increase the number of screenings and treatment services provided to them.
Evaluation of UC Berkeley’s Public Health Doctorate Program
UC Berkeley, School of Public Health
In 2005, Samuels Center was contracted to assess how successfully the UC Berkeley DrPH Program achieved its stated goals and the goals of the School of Public Health, satisfied the goals of students, and contributed to the capacity and diversity of public health leaders entering the field of public health.