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Evaluation of the Port Towns Community Health Partnership’s Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Initiative

The Port Towns Community Health Partnership (PTCHP) is located in the Port Towns community of Bladensburg, Maryland. The PTCHP is comprised of various local residents, organizations, and funders, collaborating to improve community conditions with the end goal of making the Port Towns a healthy place to live, learn, work, play, and worship. PTCHP partners include ECO City Farms, Food Equity Council, Ecumenical Health Council, End Times Harvest Ministries, Cottage City Community Garden, and Colmar Manor Community Garden. Community Science was contracted by Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States to conduct an evaluation of the PTCHP.

The Community Science evaluation team tracked and documented progress made by partners toward increasing the reach and strength (i.e., dose) of healthy eating and active living activities designed to prevent obesity and achieve health equity. An important component of the evaluation was the provision of technical assistance to PTCHP partners to support the evaluation of their programs, such as using standard data collection tools and analyzing their data to inform program planning.

The survey team collected primary data in key locations within the community with direct exposure to partner activities through a pen-and-paper questionnaire to assess community-level impact of the partnership. This was accomplished by gathering a baseline assessment of the community’s awareness of, and access to, healthy foods as well as their baseline attitudes and behaviors toward healthy eating. Although not implemented due to timing issues, the evaluation team designed a survey for high school students to assess the school-level strategy to improve conditions in Bladensburg High School.

The evaluation team’s approach to this project reflects Community Science’s commitment to use evaluation to inform collaborative learning and strategy improvement. The team recognized the uniqueness of the PTCHP and its community context. The evaluation required close attention to the structural challenges and inequities that contribute to the health disparities experienced by the Port Towns’ residents as well as a good understanding of the actions and activities (large and small) that were implemented throughout the life of the partnership. This approach allowed the evaluation team to acquire a good basis on which to interpret data from multiple sources and properly document the many achievements of the partnership that, collectively, are making a big difference in the lives of community members.  

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