UCLA School of Public Health Field Studies Program

Community Health Sciences

Field Placement: Community Action Partnership of Orange County, Planning and Program
Garden Grove, CA
Adam Woo, MPA
Student Name: Diep Tran
Year: 2005

The main objective of this internship project, titled the Commodity Supplement Food Program (CSFP) Evaluation Project, is to help the Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC) plan, design, and create an evaluation tool to assess the contributions of CSFP on senior-recipients’ health, well-being, and sense of food and economic security.

The purpose of CSFP, a federally-funded program, is to provide nutritious food supplements for low-income women (pregnant, postpartum, and/or breast feeding women), their children up to age six, and seniors (60 years and older) at no cost. Commodity foods (e.g., canned vegetables, canned meats, cheese, instant formula, cereals, etc.) are given to recipients once a month in boxes specifically designed to meet their nutritional needs.

CSFP is one of CAPOC’s largest community service programs. CAPOC, a non-profit organization, distributes CSFP food-boxes on a daily basis. CAPOC distributes about 23,000 food-boxes at 45 different community sites each month in Orange County and parts of Los Angeles County. Eighty-three percent of CSFP recipients are seniors. It is important to assess the service impacts that CSFP has on seniors’ quality of life, because the health, financial, and food needs of seniors are different than women and children. Additionally, CSFP is a program that has been running for 10 years, but the service impacts of CSFP have never been evaluated.

My internship consists of visiting food distribution sites, conducting focus groups, and creating an evaluation tool for CSFP. To get a better understanding of food insecurity concerns among seniors, I conducted two focus groups with the help of language interpreters. One focus group was conducted in Vietnamese and the other was in Spanish. Data from the site visits and the focus groups helped to inform the development of the evaluation surveys.

The result was two evaluation surveys. The shorter is 22 questions and asks mainly food insecurity and economic questions. This short survey can be used either annually or biannually to facilitate program data collection. The longer survey has 56 questions and includes physical and mental health questions in order to examine the effectiveness of CSFP beyond economic and food insecurity concerns.

I was an intern for the Planning and Program Development Department, headed by Alan Woo, MPA, but my project was to create an evaluation survey to asses CSFP, which is a program within the Food Bank Department, headed by Mark Lowry. Having to work between two different departments at CAPOC proved to be challenging, especially since the goals, knowledge background, skills, and work styles of staff members in the two departments differ quite substantially. This challenge, however, gave me the opportunity to learn how to accomplish my goals by adapting to and working within the capacity and skills of the staff.


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