PHA Innovation Challenge: Health Resources for Families

Posted on Mar 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Challenge: Childhood Obesity
The second area we’re focusing on in the challenge of childhood obesity is local health resources for families. Most of the knowledge about food and exercise is passed down and taught in the home. Often, this information is scarce as there are few options for exercise, play, and healthy food options, especially in low-income or urban areas. For those options that do exist, information about those activities and resources is not widely known. The data exists, but not in an easily managed or understood format. Low income and minority families and youth are at the most risk to be obese in the United States – they have less access to physical activity, safe places to play, and healthy food options.

The Opportunity
Create a resource that clearly and easily communicates the local options available to families, especially with consideration for low income, minority, and ELL families.

The types of information that need to be accessible to families about the resources available in their community includes*:

  • Locations, hours, and activities available at local parks, forest preserves, and playgrounds.
  • Information on places to buy healthy food, especially in food deserts.
  • Schedules for local farmer’s markets.
  • Information on community gardens and food co-ops.
  • Locations, hours, and offerings of health clubs that cater to families (such as the YMCA or Boys and Girls Club of America).
  • Events such as 5k runs, scavenger hunts, and family fun days.

*…but is not limited to.

The Solution
We are focusing specifically on an app that:

  • Scrapes data on healthy, affordable food options from grocery sites, ads, farmer’s market sites, etc.
  • Provides GPS-linked location data via a mapping interface to local physical activities.
  • Includes information on the offerings of activity centers such as the YMCA

Additional resources to be added as they become available.

Contextualizing Data and Resources*

MyPyramid Food Data
MyPyramid Food Data provides information on the total calories; calories from solid fats, added sugars, and alcohol (extras); MyPyramid food group and subgroup amounts; and saturated fat content of over 1,000 commonly eaten foods with corresponding commonly used portion amounts. This information is key to help consumers meet the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and manage their weight by understanding how many calories are consumed from ”extras.” CNPP has created an interactive tool from this data set available on the web at MyFood­a­pedia.gov. A mobile version is coming soon to provide consumers with assistance on-the-­go.

Food Desert Locator
The Food Desert Locator provides a spatial overview of low­income neighborhoods with high concentrations of people who are far from a supermarket or large grocery store. This mapping tool will allow users to map food deserts­areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious foods ­and view census tract-level statistics on population groups with low access to healthy and affordable food.

Food Environment Atlas
Food environment factors – such as store/restaurant proximity, food prices, food and nutrition assistance programs, and community characteristics – interact to influence food choices and diet quality. The Food Environment Atlas assembles statistics on food environment indicators to stimulate research on the determinants of food choices anddiet quality and provides a spatial overview of a community’s ability to access healthy food and its success in doing so. The Atlas currently includes 90 indicators of the food environment in three broad categories ­ food choices, health and well-­being, and community characteristics. Data set includes an interactive mapping tool plus bulk data download.

The Food Access Research Atlas
The Food Access Research Atlas presents a spatial overview of food access indicators for low­ income and other census tracts using different measures of supermarket accessibility, provides food access data for populations within census tracts, and offers census ­tract-­level data on food access that can be downloaded for community planning or research purposes.

SNAP Retail Locator
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Retailer Locator is designed to help recipients find SNAP local stores that welcome SNAP benefits. The tool is intended to offer assistance to program recipients, State eligibility workers, community organizations ­ such as food banks ­and others providing assistance to those in need. SNAP Retail Locator tool will make it easier for SNAP participants, especially those who may be new and unfamiliar with the program, to gain access to food. The locator is available at here.

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
The USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25 (SR25) is the major source of food composition data in the United States and provides the foundation for most public and private sector databases. SR25 contains nutrient data for over 8,100 food items and up to 146 food components, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids. It replaces the previous release, SR24 issued in September 2011.

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Projects
This dataset reflects USDA funded projects to develop local and regional food systems. It includes data from virtually all USDA Agencies and 9 other Federal Departments.

Google Maps API
Humanitarian OpenStreetMap
NPS Free Days and Locations

*Additional datasets and resources to come.