AIM for CHangE Frequently Asked Questions
These questions and answers provide in-depth information about important elements of the AIM for CHangE project, including context about public health, details about the program itself, and specifics relevant to grant funding.
Questions about Public Health
Questions about the Program
Questions about Funds
What is AIM for CHangE?
AIM for CHangE is a program facilitated by the Mississippi State University Extension Service through the Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion; AIM for CHangE stands for “Assisting, Inspiring, and Motivating for Community Health Through Extension.” Supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the program uses local coalitions to improve community health in Mississippi counties with adult obesity rates of 40% or more by improving access to healthier foods through food system changes, and by increasing access to opportunities for physical activity through active living.
Questions about Public Health
What is community health?
Community health is an area of public health that focuses on health outcomes within certain groups or populations in a geographic region. It can be community-led, generally involving work with locals, in order to identify and address community needs and improve health outcomes.
What is a food system?
A food system includes the several steps and procedures that bring food from farm to fork. These include everything from production, cultivation, and processing to distribution, purchase, and consumption. Local aspects include farms and community-supported agriculture, food banks and pantries, sales and food service, as well as many other important elements that are indirectly related to food, such as transit and healthcare.
What is active living?
Active living is the incorporation of physical activity into everyday life. Examples include biking to the post office, walking to work, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Many public health strategies encourage active living through public accommodations, such as street lighting, public seating, shading, and water fountains, while more direct strategies include public walking trails and other prioritized environmental assets.
What is an intervention?
An intervention actively addresses a problem or opportunity for the purpose of improving people’s quality of life by relying on existing assets, opportunities, skills, and solutions.
What is a policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change?
PSE changes make healthier lifestyles more accessible and sustainable by making the healthy choice the easy choice and shifting to a culture of health for communities and individuals. A policy change is a change to a law, ordinance, or rule; a systems change is a change to daily routines; an environmental change is a physical change to alter the areas in which we live. Focusing on the ways that our health is affected by each, we can improve the effectiveness of public health strategies.
Questions about the Program
What is a coalition?
A coalition is collaboration of multi-sectoral stakeholders and organizations investing in a project or prioritized outcome to improve conditions in a community. This is achieved by applying unique strengths and perspectives, and by ensuring that decisions and influence are evidence-based, community-centered, and communicated and supported by the community. Representatives serve as liaisons to their respective sectors, focusing on communication and transparency.
What is an AIM for CHangE coalition?
Our coalitions are groups of “local champions” who unite to address health disparities related to obesity, which occurs at a rate of 40% or higher among adults in all AIM for CHangE counties. These action groups involve community leaders such as public administrators, local business leaders, and community health workers. AIM for CHangE coalition members actively communicate with their sector and conduct “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats” (SWOT) assessments, develop work plans, and contribute to the improvement of master plans in order to positively address health outcomes with policy, systems, and environmental changes to food systems and active living.
What is a Community Action Project (CAP)?
Community Action Projects (CAPs) are funded efforts designed to supplement capacity-building and leverage ongoing coalition work. Working with our agents, AIM for CHangE coalitions apply for project funding through the same process as a grant proposal. Each county is allotted a ceiling of $25,000. CAPs are planned and implemented by local resident coalitions. They are sustainable and measurable, and they further our program goals by implementing PSE changes.
What is a local champion?
A local champion is a community leader and advocate who gets things done. AIM for CHangE relies on these individuals to provide unique perspectives from their experiences as stakeholders within the community. Usually, champions are long-time residents, business owners, or local public officials.
What is a master plan?
A master plan is used in public administration to express the goal and mission of the community and guide community decisions. For the purposes of AIM for CHangE, these plans focus on the ways that the physical environment supports health through walkability and concentration of everyday destinations. When community assets are near each other, they create opportunities for active living.
What is the coalition process?
With the help of county Extension agents, AIM for CHangE coalitions operate on a schedule that begins with a call to action. Agents reach out to community members to recruit and leverage support to address community health opportunities. Then, the newly formed coalition begins by identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats within the community (SWOT assessment). After identifying opportunities for growth, the groups prioritize decisions based on feasibility and evidence-based strategies, with assistance from their AIM for CHangE agent. Finally, coalitions apply for small grants called Community Action Projects that support community enhancements, implementing them with technical assistance from an AIM for CHangE agent. Evaluation occurs during and after each project. Sustainability is ensured through ongoing assistance from AIM for CHangE staff, capacity building, and reliance upon county Extension offices and agents.
What are some expected outcomes?
We are projecting to see increased engagement in and opportunities for active living, as well as an increase in the availability of healthy foods. Specifically, our expected outcomes include improved neighborhood walkability, opening and expansion of food pantries, and improved meal and retail options in food service and distribution outlets. Ultimately, our goal is to prevent and reduce obesity through increased availability and accessibility of healthy foods and active living options.
How can I get involved?
There has never been a better time to get involved with AIM for CHangE! Contact your AIM for CHangE agent to move forward with joining a coalition!
Who is my AIM for CHangE agent?
How often do coalitions meet and what is my commitment?
Coalitions usually meet bi-weekly, so a time commitment is required from each member. Members commit to address health disparities in the long term, pursuing quality-of-life improvements in their communities. Coalition members also make a commitment to be role models and to leverage their network of peers and partner organizations. You will be a sector representative, ensuring fluid communications between the sector you represent and the coalition.
What are coalition members required to do?
Coalition members are required to actively participate in all coalition meetings, identify opportunities in the community that relate to physical activity/health/nutrition, and follow projects from beginning to end. Coalition members build work plans and serve as sector representatives within their coalitions by networking, leveraging resources, and bringing local residents together to make changes that promote community health.
Questions about Funds
Do coalition members get paid?
Due to CDC restrictions, funds cannot be used for personal payment or reimbursement, as AIM for CHangE funds cannot support enriching an individual person, nor can they be used to purchase anything for personal use. Coalition members’ time is voluntary, contributing to a shared-cost agreement that forms the foundation of AIM for CHangE. Members can record volunteer hours as a form of in-kind contribution.
Is my organization required to match funding we receive?
Cost-sharing is required, but volunteer hours can go toward this cost. When organizations cash-match funding, they help to create a more substantial and sustainable impact, but cash-matching is not required by CDC guidelines. Throughout the coalition-building process, members should investigate other potential funding sources in the community, as they can be used to supplement support provided by AIM for CHangE.
What is an in-kind donation?
An in-kind donation is a donation of goods or services, including volunteer service. These donations can go toward a shared-cost agreement and serve as an important bridge between project support from AIM for CHangE and project support from within the community.
Can funds be used to pay for labor?
Due to CDC restrictions, funds cannot be used for uncontracted labor. Instead, communities are expected to leverage existing partnerships and resources, using local assets to increase sustainability by promoting a culture of health from within. Coalition members volunteering time to support a project are not eligible for reimbursement.
Can funds be used to purchase land, buildings, or vehicle parts?
Due to CDC restrictions, funds cannot be used for land or buildings (anything with a roof or structural permanence), nor can they be used for vehicles, maintenance, or car parts.
DREW, Miss. -- The small Delta town of Drew in the heart of Sunflower County has created a private, public and academic partnership to fight food insecurity.
For its efforts, the town recently received a big new honor, along with funding to advance ongoing health equity improvements. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) last month awarded Drew and nine other communities the 2020–2021 Culture of Health Prize, along with $25,000.
LOUISVILLE, Miss. -- Jim McAdory wears many hats. On any given day, the Mississippi State University Extension Service agent fields calls from local cattle farmers, teaches kids about the importance of daily nutrition, and tests soil to diagnose front yard and garden harvest problems -- all before lunch.
Based in Winston County, McAdory recently gained an additional role: Mental Health First Aid instructor.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Only eight teams were accepted into the Society of Public Health Education Writing for Publication Workshop this summer, and one of them is from Mississippi State University.
Katharine Halfacre and Masey Smith, Extension specialists in the MSU Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion, were accepted into the competitive program for their involvement with the MSU Extension program AIM for CHangE.
Citizens in northern Sunflower County can use a new ride-sharing service to maintain an independent and healthy lifestyle. The service, called Healthy Destination Access, kicked off June 15 with ribbon cuttings in Rome and Drew.
MAYERSVILLE, Miss. -- Alexis Hamilton never thought he would be hauling a green plastic dinosaur sheathed in protective plastic through an empty field in the Mississippi Delta. But when he looks back on his career, it’s not that big of a leap.