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P110 The Healthy Communities Initiative: Gathering Community Input During COVID-19

      Background

      The Louisiana Healthy Communities Initiative, led by the LSU AgCenter, guides SNAP-Ed policy, systems, and environmental change efforts. Prior to COVID19, agents held in-person community forums to gather input and community priorities for interventions. COVID19 spurred innovation in this process. Although many states have used videoconferencing services to host meetings, lack of functional internet access posed a barrier for many communities in Louisiana.

      Objective

      To gather broad community input through Qualtrics surveys in order to assess needs and assets, guide project prioritization, and gather feedback on previous projects.

      Study Design, Settings, Participants

      Qualtrics surveys were distributed via email to community members, stakeholders, and partners serving low-income audiences. Three surveys solicited feedback for existing Healthy Communities coalitions (n = 45); 1 survey gathered initial input for a newly formed Healthy Communities coalition (n = 63). The overall response rate across all surveys was 23.6%.

      Measurable Outcome/Analysis

      Survey responses to community health and engagement questions were separated by counties and analyzed through qualitative content analysis. The research team worked with Extension agents to conduct member checking through discussing survey results with participants.

      Results

      One hundred and eight responses were received from 4 communities. Extension agents reported high satisfaction with the process. Surveys provided action items and potential new coalition members. Across all 4 communities, common themes included acknowledging racial health disparities, a need for greater community involvement in coalition efforts, and a lack of healthy food options.

      Conclusion

      Qualtrics surveys were an effective way to gather community input and allowed wider participation than would have been possible with a virtual meeting. Post-COVID, agents plan to continue to solicit community input through Qualtrics surveys, in addition to face-to-face forums. This method is a valuable tool for lower-income and rural communities. Results reflected an awareness of low community engagement, racial health disparities and limited healthy food access.
      Funding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education.

      Appendix. Supplementary data