The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit is proud to be partnering with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Office of Public Health’s Health Promotion Team; with the BlueCross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation; and with a variety of community agencies, organizations, and coalitions throughout the state. The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit has led evaluation efforts and/or provided comprehensive evaluation services and technical and administrative assistance for a wide range of projects and programs.  

Current Projects

Healthy ABC's

SNAP-Ed Healthy Access, Behaviors and Communities (Healthy ABC’s) is a community-based pilot program, developed by the LSU AgCenter to promote healthier SNAP-Ed eligible communities through community coalitions, and to increase knowledge of and community practices that promote healthy behaviors. The program targets portions of Tangipahoa, Washington, and St. Helena Parishes, where the prevalence of adult obesity is ≥40% (BRFSS, 2012). The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit is providing external evaluation services, including comprehensive assessments of community coalitions in the target parishes.

West Carroll Healthy Communities

The West Carroll Healthy Communities program is a collaboration among Pennington Biomedical, LSU AgCenter, Southern University AgCenter, the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Services, and the West Carroll community to improve the health of West Carroll Parish. Pennington Biomedical led a community-wide health assessment in 2014, which included a population health phone survey as well as community health screenings. The assessment served to identify priority areas for the parish in order to best direct health interventions and health promotion activities. The collaboration currently supports West Carroll community capacity building and its continued efforts to create a healthier parish.

State Partnership Initiative to Address Health Disparities 2015

The State Partnership Initiative to Address Health Disparities is a 5 year program (2015-2020), funded through the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health. It is being implemented by the Louisiana DHH Bureau of Minority Health Access and Promotions as a series of activities targeting three “hotspots” of racial/ethnic health disparities and aimed at empowering Louisiana’s racial/ethnic minorities to improve their own health by cultivating a healthier lifestyle. The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit is evaluating this effort with attention to specific factors contributing to the health disparities and impacts that could be sustained beyond 2020.

Louisiana Fit Kids

The USDA funded Louisiana Fit Kids project was initiated in April, 2015 as a partnership between Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the Louisiana Department of Education’s Division of Nutrition Support. The purpose is to assist Louisiana’s schools with implementation of the updated nutrition standards set by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010. Activities will include development of a new website to facilitate menu planning and selection of Smart Snack items approved for Louisiana schools, showcase child nutrition related materials, and promote practices that qualify schools for Healthier US School Challenge awards. Activities will also include staff trainings that fulfill professional requirements associated with child nutrition programs.

Past Projects:

State Public Health Actions to Prevent and Control Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and Associated Risk Factors and Promote School Health Program (SPHA 1305)

State Public Health Actions to Prevent and Control Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and Associated Risk Factors and Promote School Health Program (SPHA 1305) can be thought of as the Louisiana DHH Health Promotion Unit’s implementation of a cross-cutting approach to promote health and prevent/control diabetes, heart disease and stroke, This approach includes strategies and activities targeting nutrition, physical activity, and obesity; it incorporates environmental change, health systems improvements, community-clinical linkages, and surveillance and epidemiology. The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit is evaluating this effort in terms of coordination, synergy, organizational structure, and overall impact within DHH and throughout the state.

LA Tobacco Control Program (LTCP)

LA Tobacco Control Program (LTCP) utilizes evidence-based strategies in tobacco control surveillance, prevention and cessation, management, health communications, and resource development to advance policies and services that promote a tobacco-free Louisiana. The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit provides on-going external evaluation services to the LTCP to meet requests and requirements of the Louisiana DHH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Tobacco Free Healthcare Partnerships (TFHPP)

Tobacco Free Healthcare Partnerships (TFHPP) is a unique program designed to implement comprehensive tobacco control programs in four of Louisiana’s public health regions and hospital systems. The partnership focuses on prevention, cessation, and protection from secondhand smoke through policy change. TFHPP has a strong media component and facilitates technical assistance opportunities for participating hospitals. The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit has been assessing these partnerships in terms of progress with implementation of tobacco policies, capacity building, and tobacco cessation efforts.

Coordinated Evaluation of the LA DHH OPH Health Promotion Team’s Methods to Improve the Public Health

This project is funded through the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) Office of Public Health (OPH) Health Promotion (HP) as a means of facilitating the development and implementation of a coordinated evaluation plan incorporating goals, objectives and activities from its core grant-funded programs: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 1305 State Public Health Actions Grant; the Oral Health Grant; the Tobacco Control Grant; and Well-Ahead Louisiana. The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit is managing the planning, training, and reporting that supports on-going evaluation of activities that fulfill national evaluation requirements and local evaluation needs of the LA DHH Health Promotion team and its key partners.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana is an obesity prevention effort that supports communities as they develop partnerships and collaborations to plan and implement activities effecting policies, norms, practices, social supports, and the physical environment, to support healthy eating and active living for children and families across Louisiana. The Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana Program is currently funding 12 projects throughout the state. The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit is working in partnership with BCBSLAF to provide project management, capacity building, project specific evaluation and overall multi-site outcome evaluation.

  • Fresh Beginnings is based on in Baton Rouge as part of the Mayor’s Health City Initiative. The project includes a healthy-lifestyle curriculum in elementary schools, convenient neighborhood access to fresh and healthy foods, and new policies to address food deserts.
  • Central LA Local Foods Initiative is a project of the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance to create a vibrant and healthy regional foods economy throughout Central Louisiana. It aims to increase availability and consumption of locally grown fruits and vegetables, while enhancing opportunities for local farmers.
  • Live Lively LaSalle! is coordinated through the Centennial Cultural Center, Inc. to increase opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity throughout LaSalle Parish, including the Jena Band of Choctaw tribal lands, by developing walking trails, spray pools, playgrounds, park facilities, farmer’s markets, and community nutrition and health education programs, media and events.
  • Healthy Green and Into the Outdoors Obesity Prevention Project (HGIO) is a collaborative of local nonprofits, government agencies and businesses. It aims to improve the health and lifestyles of Shreveport residents by providing health education to children and by teaching families to sustain gardens and orchards.
  • Growing LA is building an urban farm and food center in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans. This effort combines water-based recirculating farming, with traditional soil-based growing to help urban communities develop affordable, accessible sources of local, fresh food. It also provides comprehensive training for new farmers, healthy cooking/nutrition classes, and advocacy for policies that promote increased access to healthy food.
  • Capital Area Pathways Project and Mobile Playground (CAPP) is two-prong approach by BREC, the Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, to increase physical activity opportunities for adults and youth in Baton Rouge. The project is building a walking/biking trail and has developed a mobile recreation program that brings active play to underserved neighborhoods and schools.
  • Ouachita Well coordinates community efforts in three Ouachita Parish municipalities to improve the health of their most vulnerable populations. The initiative includes changes to community norms through public policy adoption, infrastructure additions, a mobile recreation unit and services for obese children and their families.
  • The Healthy Living Club is a coalition of 24 organizations that uses a holistic and evidence-based approach to create healthier communities in underserved areas of Lafayette. The project includes improved parks, bike trails, sidewalks, and community gardens, in concert with healthy cooking and physical activity education in the community and in schools.
  • Dare to Be Healthy is a collaborative effort in Southwest Louisiana that is takes a multi-pronged approach to improve the health of individuals in resource poor areas of/near Lake Charles. It includes development of sidewalks, biking and walking trails, community gardens, a healthy restaurant initiative, and the use of inspirational health education and media programming to reinforce healthy opportunities for children and adults.
  • GRoW (Great Resources Where Y’all At) is a collaborative of 40 nonprofit organizations that has developed a multi-level health initiative addressing physical activities and nutrition. Based in a community school “hub,” with support from area “spoke” feeder-schools, the project serves students living in or attending these schools and their families in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans.
  • Fit NOLA is an initiative that supports behavioral change to improve long-term health outcomes for families in three New Orleans’ low-income neighborhoods, each surrounding a community park. Strategies include food vouchers redeemable at neighborhood farmers markets, community-centered health clinics that support nutrition and physical activity through education and fresh fruit and vegetable prescriptions, and structured opportunities for family-oriented recreation.
  • West End Health and Wellness Project is coordinated through the Hopkins Street Revitalization Association, Inc. in New Iberia, to improve the health of the West End community. The project is building school, home, and community gardens and a farmer’s market; it communicates health information through weekly radio shows; it draws community involvement through meetings, activities, and events.

Healthy Community Coalitions (HCC)

Healthy Community Coalitions (HCC) are in place in each of the state’s nine public health regions, to improve health outcomes across Louisiana by mobilizing and empowering communities to implement health policy, systems and environmental changes. They receive guidance from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals’ Health Promotion Unit, Louisiana Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, Louisiana Public Health Institute, and American Cancer Society. The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit has been assisting with evaluation planning, activity planning, and general monitoring of coalition progress. 

Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (CCDP)

Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (CCDP) was initiated in the Fall of 2011 to strengthen the impact of the Louisiana DHH Chronic Disease Prevention /Health Promotion Program through planning and reorganizing, to more efficiently focus resources towards reducing health disparities and risk factors common among leading causes of death and disability. The approach has been to integrate strategies and activities -- leadership, interventions, communications, surveillance and evaluation -- that cut across chronic disease program lines. The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit participated in strategic planning processes and evaluated the reorganization effort and its impact over the 3-year transition (2011-2013).

Community Transformation (CTG)

Community Transformation (CTG) was an opportunity for the Louisiana DHH Office of Public Health, Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health to develop the capacity to implement policy, environmental, programmatic, and infrastructure changes. This began as the organization of a vast network of stakeholder and partners to establish a diverse leadership team and a multi-sectorial coalition. It included training of coalition members, conducting and interpreting regional health needs assessments and policy scans, and developing a strategic direction and plan for addressing priority needs. The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit collaborated with DHH by assisting with grant development and providing evaluation planning, survey development, program guidance, and reporting services.

Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW)

Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), component 1 – was implemented in Louisiana as Schools Putting Prevention to Work (SPPW), a partnership of the Louisiana Tobacco Control Program, the Louisiana School Boards Association, and the Louisiana Department of Education. SPPW provided technical assistance and a mini-grant to 27 of Louisiana’s school districts to draft, implement, and sustain a comprehensive wellness policy that supports 100% tobacco-free schools, healthy eating, and physical activity. The Pennington Biomedical Evaluation Unit provided program implementation guidance, capacity building activities, complete process and outcome evaluation planning and implementation, and reporting services.