Assessment for a West Philadelphia Senior Food Community Planning Project

The public health Issue: In the Mantua neighborhood of West Philadelphia, many older adults live below the poverty level, putting them at risk for food insecurity. While Mantua has many community assets, including food-related coalitions, there is little focus on seniors and their specific needs. With funding from the United States Department of Agriculture, Health Promotion Council, in partnership with the Research & Evaluation Group, was awarded a one-year planning grant to identify barriers to food security for low-income older adults living in Mantua and to develop a strategic plan for addressing these barriers.

Our contribution to the client: The Health Promotion Council sought our expertise to assess the gaps and barriers that Mantua older adults experience in accessing nutritious, affordable food. Our team conducted several key informant interviews with local individuals involved in emergency food and community and senior services, and held focus groups with Mantua older adults. The needs assessment revealed several significant obstacles. The most prominent challenge included using public transportation to reach food outlets and the lack of a quality grocery store in the area. Using our team’s needs assessment as a guide, the project’s advisory group adopted strategies that are helping seniors make progress towards overcoming transportation obstacles to healthy food access.