This article describes and addresses the challenges researchers face when utilizing natural experimental studies to evaluate changes to the retail food environment. Through the use of case studies, the article describes strategies and approaches for overcoming these challenges. The challenges are divided into categories of: 1) study design and analysis; 2) selection of participants, selection of measure, and obtainment of data; and 3) real-world considerations. Advantages and disadvantages to each approach are provided. Consideration of these challenges and best practices can minimize bias and ensure natural experimental studies effectively assess the impact of policies and programs on food access, availability, and intake for use by stakeholders, policymakers, and food retailers.
Best Practices for Using Natural Experiments to Evaluate Retail Food and Beverage Policies and Interventions
CSPI developed a case study that provides insights into policy strategy and advocacy best practices that resulted in passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). The case study outlines key lessons to help inform nutrition and public health policy initiatives, as well as continued implementation and defense of … More
Evaluation of the USDA FINI Program Finds Benefits for Consumers, Farmers and Retailers, and Local Economies
In December 2018, Congress passed a new farm bill which included a reauthorization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program. This brief summarizes the findings of a recent qualitative evaluation of FINI, which concludes that the program has benefits for consumers, farmers and … More
A Qualitative Evaluation of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program
This research describes findings from interviews conducted with grantees of multi-year community-based and large-scale projects funded by the FINI mechanism, as well as with stakeholders who could speak to FINI on a broader level. A total of 22 interviews were conducted with 19 organizations. Key elements addressed in this evaluation … More