Catalyzing Health Care Investment in Healthier Food Systems 

Health Care Without Harm is undertaking a national study of non-profit hospitals’ community benefit practices to improve healthy food access and reduce risk of diet-related disease.

In this three-year project, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Health Care Without Harm is conducting a national study of non-profit hospitals’ community benefit practices targeted to strengthening food system resilience and sustainability, improving physical and economic access to healthy foods, and promoting healthier dietary patterns and healthy body weight. Through a national survey, in-depth interviews, and case studies, the study will identify best hospital community benefit practices as well as model programs promoting sustainable and healthy food systems.

Survey invitations will be sent to a random sample of tax-exempt hospitals to learn about how hospitals include food insecurity, healthy food access, and diet-related health conditions in their community health needs assessments and implementation plans.  Findings will be made available through various learning networks, including Community Commons.



Big data doesn’t have to be Big Brother

This article easily says what I attempted to do in my 3-part Big Data, Little Farmers Markets posts earlier in the year.

The same data and algorithms that wreak havoc on workers’ lives could just as easily be repurposed to improve them. Worker cooperatives or strong, radical unions could use the same algorithms to maximize workers’ well being…

…Big data, like all technology, is imbued within social relations. Despite the rhetoric of its boosters and detractors, there is nothing inherently progressive or draconian about big data. Like all technology, its uses reflect the values of the society we live in.

Under our present system, the military and government use big data to suppress populations and spy on civilians. Corporations use it to boost profits, increase productivity, and extend the process of commodification ever deeper into our lives. But data and statistical algorithms don’t produce these outcomes — capitalism does. To realize the potentially amazing benefits of big data, we must fight against the undemocratic forces that seek to turn it into a tool of commodification and oppression.

Big Data article

Farmers Market Metrics May Be Coming To Your Town

This is a reprint of a blog that I wrote for the Farmers Market Metrics page on Farmers Market Coalition’s site. There is a growing need for food and civic systems evaluation that is designed and implemented in partnership with the grassroots organization and uses contextual and disciplined metrics that are useful to that organization and to their partners. The new pilots and research happening at FMC and their partners, such as University of Wisconsin-Madison, are hoping to address that need.
ecocities emerging

Open Data Kit – Smartphone data collection and aggregation

I was able to attend a workshop on Friday at Tulane School of Public Health in New Orleans on Open Data Kit (ODK) which is an open-source suite of tools that helps organizations author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions.

The data is hosted for free on the ODK server (well for now since no one is ever sure of the evolution of these companies) but the data can easily be hosted on a different server and can be downloaded and saved offline as well. It works with simple excel spreadsheet surveys downloaded from a site like Formhub to android phones with a user friendly format (see pic).
It allows for safeguards like reviewing data collectors work and yet it does not require expensive data plans for smart phones. The data can be collected offline and can be transferred using USBs (although that adds extra steps).
There are also proprietary systems and tools available using this process to take community organizations to the same place, if they feel more comfortable in pursuing a company to help them with a mobile system.
ODK has the possibility to capture data in many more formats than typical surveys relying on paper forms (i.e. text, numbers or single/multiple choice)

Pictures and videos

Capture (e.g. household survey with follow-up)

Display (show picture and ask people to identify / reflect on them

Capture signature (Consent forms)

Bar and QR Code (Anonymous identification)

Survey Monkey sez start with your conclusion

Writing your conclusion first is just like proposing a hypothesis for a science experiment.

DATA + DESIGN A simple introduction to preparing and visualizing information

A free online book to data visualization by the creators of Infoactive. I am proud to be a Kickstarter backer of this innovative company and hope we can lure them into the farmers market/food system world of data collection. This book came out of that campaign and-well, maybe just read what the author said about how the book came to be:

“It started with a message on Kickstarter:
Hi Trina! Stats dork from Chicago here….Do you have any plans to include tutorials for basic data cleaning and data selection techniques for users who may not have any statistics background?
At the time, I didn’t know that this one message would turn into a book, a community, and a global endeavor to make information design more accessible.

The message author, Dyanna Gregory, was a statistical programmer who knew the challenges of teaching university-level stats to those who don’t identify as math nerds. I was an entrepreneur building Infoactive, a web application to help people create interactive infographics and data visualizations. I was also a Reynolds Fellow at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute where my goal was to find ways to simplify the process of making data visualizations in newsrooms. I had launched a Kickstarter campaign to support Infoactive, and we had nearly 1,500 backers who were excited about breaking down barriers in data visualization.

We all believed in the vision of making data simple.

But working with data can be far from simple. Data come in all different shapes, sizes, and flavors. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to collecting, understanding, and visualizing information. Some people spend years studying the topic through statistics, mathematics, design, and computer science. And many people want a bit of extra help getting started.”

Link to book

Wisconsin farmers market graphic on benefit program usage

Professor Alfonso Morales, principal investigator to the Indicators for Impact project sent this interesting graphic to the project team last week:

here is the top part for those unable to see the PDF:


Using infographics to tell a story about multiple benefits is rapidly growing throughout the farmers market field and the Farmers Market Coalition Farmers Market Metrics project (including the Indicators for Impact research) has already devised prototypes of reports and graphics for markets which will continue to be refined. Here are some examples of how some of the FMM/FMC prototype markets have already used the graphics on FB and in print too:




Knight Foundation supports research for farmers markets

As a member of Farmers Market Coalition’s research team, I for one am very excited to receive this support from the Knight Foundation and their Prototype Fund. This pilot will allow FMC to listen to markets’ needs and ultimately fashion dynamic solutions to upload simple data (customer counts, number of new products offered, staff time dedicated to outreach for at-risk populations) to then see that data in an appealing info-graphic style for use with market partners as well as to see it aggregated on a national map with other markets data.
Please let me know if you have ideas or experience in data work in your market that may lend itself to iterations of this prototype and please look forward to more information throughout the year on this Farmers Market Metrics work happening at FMC.