The outcome, or product, of using Moving to the Future is a plan. By using the worksheets in Moving to the Future, you should be able to develop a plan that will be funded and, if implemented, will make a difference in the health of your community. In developing a nutrition and physical activity plan, your team figures out what it’s going to take to achieve your health goal and objectives. Also, now is the time to decide how to evaluate the plan’s impact.
There are no standard guidelines on the structure, format, or components of a nutrition and physical activity plan. Generally, a nutrition and physical activity plan is a document that: (1) includes community assessment findings, (2) outlines strategies to promote healthy eating and physical activity, and (3) describes the plan for evaluation. Moving to the Future includes a nutrition and physical activity plan template to give you some guidance on what to include in a plan. This template is based on the program-planning process outlined in Moving to the Future. Be sure to modify the template to meet your teams needs.
The Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a tool for assessing the quality of state public health plans. This tool, called the State Plan Index, is available in PDF on the CDC Obesity Prevention Program web page. State Plan Index This research-based tool should be consulted as you draft your nutrition and physical activity plan, whether you work at a local or state level. If you use the “Nutrition and Physical Activity Plan Template” in Moving to the Future and the accompanying instructions, then your plan would address much of what is called for in the State Plan Index.
FAQs About Developing a Nutrition and Physical Activity Plan Why develop a plan? There are several benefits to developing a nutrition and physical activity plan and some are listed below. Developing a good nutrition and physical activity plan:
- Controls work load. An unexpected benefit to having a nutrition and physical activity plan is the ability to control and stabilize a persons work load. If you are responsible for a certain number of the interventions in the plan then you can say, No, not this year, to new ideas that are not in the plan. New ideas should always be added to the possible interventions list for consideration in the next plan.
- Raises funds. Nearly every funder in todays times will require a plan on how their money will be spent. Even if your team is seeking funds for one piece of a comprehensive nutrition and physical activity plan, the existence of the whole plan will impress the funder. The existence of the whole plan gives the possible funder confidence that their money is going toward an organized project that will make a difference. Over the course of two years, a rural Midwestern community with 7,000 people received $68,000 in grant funding from different sources after completing a multi-agency, countywide plan to reduce heart disease.
- Gives focus. Sometimes being the leader of a community health team working to promote healthy eating and physical activity can feel like herding cats. People have lots of ideas and opinions to address these complex behaviors and everyone tends to go in his or her own direction. In these situations, the task of having to develop a plan can help a team focus and be productive. Frequently, the need to develop a plan has made different agencies with similar goals sit down together and talk, which has resulted in more collaboration.
- Gets things organized. Improving the eating and physical activity behaviors of a community is not simple. It is a long-term goal and requires interventions at multiple levels. The process of developing a plan can help sort through all the options and complexity and clarify what needs to be done in your community. Developing a plan can also help organize and better integrate existing programs and services. For example, by developing a plan two agencies may discover that they both offer nearly identical services to the same population. Instead of duplicating services, one agency may decide to target a different audience or develop a complementary intervention. Reduces barriers. The process of developing a plan makes you think matters through including possible barriers to success. By identifying possible barriers you can strategize ways to reduce or overcome those barriers. For example, in developing a plan you may discover that your team is going to need access to an epidemiologist or professional evaluator to track changes in the community data on healthy weight among children and adolescents. Making arrangements for such expertise during the planning stage will save time and money during evaluation, and it will help your team document progress along the way. Developing a nutrition and physical activity plan does not eliminate problems, but you can certainly reduce barriers to success by going through the planning process.
- Conveys competence. A well-prepared nutrition and physical activity plan tells others, including supervisors, colleagues, and possible funding organizations, that you have a sense of what your community needs and wants related to nutrition and physical activity. A comprehensive plan promotes confidence in others about your efforts.
Are the Moving to the Future materials only helpful in creating a comprehensive nutrition and physical activity plan? No. Moving to the Future materials, including the plan template, can be used to help develop a plan focused only on nutrition or a plan focused only on physical activity. You could use these materials to develop a plan to promote breastfeeding, improve physical activity levels among adolescents, improve community food security, or improve nutrition services for low-income children, as well as promote healthy eating and physical activity to prevent overweight and obesity.
What are the components of a nutrition and physical activity plan? As mentioned above there are no standards listing the essential parts of a nutrition and physical activity plan. However, based on a review of available state and local plans that address nutrition and physical activity, the components listed below are generally included in the plan. Further, by including these components in your plan you will address nearly everything suggested in the State Plan Index. Moving to the Future includes a nutrition and physical activity plan template with these components and with instructions for completing each component.
- Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- BACKGROUND INFORMATION
- Context Setting Community Description
- Community Assessment
- Community Assessment Process
- PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
- Narrative Summary Goal and Objectives List
- Program Planning Process
- Program Work Plan
- Research Basis
- Program Impact Evaluation Objective(s)
- Evaluation Work Plan
- Logic Model
- Intended Use of Evaluation Data
- Coalition Personnel Funding
A plan that includes all these components will run several pages long. A detailed plan with all of this information is almost essential to the staff raising money to implement the plan, executing the interventions, and evaluating the plan. But a lengthy document is not appropriate to use in marketing the plan to the public, potential funders, supervisory boards, or other such groups. Creating a two-page summary of the plan with color font and pictures is better for marketing purposes.
How should the plan be organized and formatted? There is no right or wrong way to lay out your plan. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded ten state health agencies funding to develop a statewide obesity-prevention plan, each plan looked different. One way to organize and format your plan is to follow the structure of an existing plan. For example, if your teams task is to develop the nutrition and physical activity component of the communitys pre-existing health plan, then you could follow the structure of that community health plan. Or, if you receive much of your funding from one source, like the state health department, you could organize and format your plan to be similar to plans developed by the state health department. Links to example nutrition and physical activity plans are included in this chapter.
How do you integrate a nutrition and physical activity plan with another plan? Integration can be between a local nutrition and physical activity plan and a state nutrition and physical activity plan. In this case the local plan should consider adopting the goals and as many objectives as possible and appropriate from the state plan. If the state plan outlines intervention strategies, then the local plan can include those interventions best matched with community needs and wants. Integration can also be between a nutrition and physical activity plan and an overarching community health plan, an overarching maternal and child health plan, or an overarching chronic disease prevention plan. Again, using as many goals and objectives as possible from the overarching plan is a good way to integrate a nutrition and physical activity plan with another overarching health plan.
Do we stop offering our programs until the plan is finished? No. Although the program planning process described in Moving to the Future is presented in five, stand-alone, sequential steps, the actual process is quite fluid and you are often doing the steps simultaneously. Even in one workday you could lead the 5ADay education mini-course for a third grade class (intervention), summarize community opinion survey results (assessment), and tabulate evaluation results from a worksite wellness program for school personnel (evaluation). Developing a plan is an ongoing process. Once a comprehensive plan is developed you can do annual reviews and minor updates to the plan for several years . . . as long as your evaluation results indicate progress and success.
What do we do once the plan is finished? Celebrate and invite everyone who helped! Completing a nutrition and physical activity plan is the result of hard work by several people. Market and promote the existence of the plan. Seek out ways to tell the community about your nutrition and physical activity plan. This can include speaking at community groups, clubs, and boards; writing articles for local media outlets; creating a newsletter specifically related to the plan; and referencing the plan in grant applications and grant reports. Implement the plan. This is the fun part. During implementation you do the things youve plannedcreating new policy, launching new programs, making improvements to the environment, maintaining services, and so on. More people will probably want to be involved with this stage than any other stage. Review progress. On a regular basis, review how things are going with those involved in developing, implementing, and evaluating the plan. Reviews could take place once a year, twice a year, or even monthly. Update the plan. As needed, update the plan based on monitoring and evaluating information. If you complete a thorough community assessment and develop a comprehensive plan you may only need to do minor tweaking to the plan for several years after the comprehensive plan is finalized.