Rural Community Food & Physical Activity Environment Audit

GROW Healthy Kids and Communities partners with rural people, organizations, and communities to generate rural options to support weight healthy lifestyles – healthy eating and physical activity every day - for all children and families.

We engage people in the communities we serve in assessing the conditions that most affect them where they live, work, learn, and play. We do this to learn what will work best to improve weight healthy behaviors for children and families, and food and physical activity resources in the community.


The R-CFPA is a participatory survey of all the food and physical activity resources in the community


Our HEAL MAPPS™ program helped people to tell their story of life in the community – to share personal experiences or encounters with the food and physical activity resources as either supporting or hindering weight healthy choices and habits. People’s perceptions are very important for understanding how and why healthy habits develop.

We also wanted to know about all of the available resources – who makes food and physical activity available, what types of food and physical activity are available, and where is food and physical activity available and is there a cost.

The Rural Community Food and Physical Activity Environment Audit is a participatory survey of all of the food and physical activity resources in the community. The auditors use camera-enabled GPS units and photomapping methods to document that a surveyed resource is available and where it is located. On campus, we integrate community data with other geographic information systems (GIS) data to provide a visual report of the relationship between the location and types of food and physical activity assets and where most people live in the community.

The information contained in this report can be used to drive decisions about land use and siting for new resources, to secure funding to improve the community food system, parks and recreation resources, and transportation planning. It can also be used by community members to seek out affordable, healthy food and physical activity options that are locally available.

Beginning summer 2013, communities began using the Community Audit tool to assess the actual (vs. perceived) rural community food & physical activity resources.
Audit is ground-truthed using camera-enabled GPS to quantify and qualify elements of availability and accessibility. Data will be used to document  changes over time.

This material is based upon work that was supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2011-68001-30020. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.