Heart Smarts Program Evaluation

You are here


The Food Trust





Organization Overview:

The Food Trust's mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. Working with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers, we've developed a comprehensive approach to improved food access that combines nutrition education and greater availability of affordable, healthy food.

Project Name:

Heart Smarts Program Evaluation
Project Type: 
Program Evaluation; Data Analysis

Project Overview:

The Food Trust (TFT) manages the Heart Smarts Program, an environmental change, nutrition education and health screening effort at corner stores across the Philadelphia region. Store customers are offered nutrition information and cooking demonstrations, along with increased access to healthy foods and marketing in these stores. After participating in a short nutrition education lesson, participants are asked to fill out a healthy eating survey that includes their name and demographics. In return for participating, they are provided with an incentive, Heart Bucks, which are coupons that they can redeem on healthy food products at the store.

TFT has partnered with Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals’ Center for Urban Health for the past five years. Jefferson staff collect health data (blood pressure, weight/height) alongside Heart Smarts staff. The goal of Heart Smarts is to determine if customers who regularly participate in the program experience positive health benefits (i.e., lower blood pressure, weight reduction, healthier eating) by combining the health screening and named survey data.

TFT has been collecting these data and will continue to do so once programming starts again this year. The Fels Lab student will support the data cleaning and analysis process to identify how often individuals take part in the Heart Smarts program and to examine the program’s impact. The Fels student will have the opportunity to investigate, analyze and report on potential health changes from Heart Smarts nutrition education, environmental change and health screening data in returning Heart Smarts participants using health screening metrics. Upon
completion of the project, with the Fels Lab student’s support, TFT will have a body of data that will allow both organizations to better understand the program’s effectiveness and to inform future programming.

Integrating health data with nutrition education program evaluation data is challenging because of HIPPA data sharing constraints. The combined Heart Smarts participant attendance during the eight-week series, self-reported dietary intake and health screening data will allow us to take an important first step to quantify the effectiveness of the Heart Smarts program in promoting healthy eating, and ultimately lifestyle changes that promote positive health outcomes.

The student will be responsible for four key deliverables:
  (a) A dataset comprising cleaned, matched data that can be used for analyses and programmatic and funding decisions.
  (b) Appropriate metrics and analyses for quantifying correlation between Jefferson health screening data and Heart Smarts program attendance and dietary intake data.
  (c) A written report of the findings
  (d) A presentation on the student's process and findings.

SPECIAL TIMELINE: This project will require an accelerated timeline relative to the typical EMPA timeline; the final deliverable will be in February. 


September – October
      • The Food Trust organizational and project background orientation.
      • Introduction to dataset. Match names in existing Food Trust data set.
      • Finalization of cleaned dataset. Communication with Jeffersonto request de-identified matched data and/or share TFT data with Jefferson.
      • Coordination with Jefferson researchers to plan program analysis

January – February
      • Coordinate with Jefferson to write-up analysis.
      • Final project presentation

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326