The Senior Center Needs Assessment Toolkit is a policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change intervention designed to allow SNAP-Ed partners and senior centers to assess the readiness of a senior center to make changes to nutrition and physical activity (PA) programming and assist senior centers and their partners in making evidence-based changes to the nutrition and PA policies, systems, and environment. The Toolkit consists of a needs assessment portion (sections one and two) that provides a structured way to gather information and should be completed by or with the Senior Center Director or person/people that have a strong understanding of the center. Section three can be completed by either senior center staff or a partner, such as SNAP-Ed, who may be assisting with nutrition and PA initiatives. Overall, the goal of this Toolkit is to facilitate centers to make changes that improve the health of participants through community-based prevention strategies.
A draft of the Senior Center Needs Assessment Toolkit was initially developed after a literature review of existing tools. The most relevant and consistent questions from the review were included in the needs assessment, along with existing SNAP-Ed toolkit tools, such as the Organizational Readiness for Implementing Change tool (ORIC). Careful consideration was given to the target audience, length of the total survey, and maintaining a balance between community/senior center staff questions and environmental scan questions. Two Adult and Senior Nutrition Program SNAP-Ed educators reviewed the tool to provide feedback on applicability in the field, and the drafted needs assessment was discussed with three senior centers. Although all the senior centers were in urban settings, they contained varying population demographics and differing food environments.