​Health Impact Assessment

What is a HIA?

Health Impact Assessments are a method of assessing how a plan, program, or policy will affect the overall health of a population.  It is a flexible process which can be changed to fit the needs of an organization.  Health Impact Assessment (HIA) helps policy makers analyze potential health impacts by bringing together scientific data, health expertise and public input to identify the potential health effects of proposed new laws, regulations, projects and programs.

There are three basic types of HIAs:

  • Rapid, which takes days or weeks
  • Intermediate, which takes weeks or months
  • Comprehensive, which takes months or years

Health Impact Assessments follow the same basic process, regardless of the type being utilized.

There are six primary steps:

  1. Screening, which helps a department determine if conducting an HIA would be feasible or helpful in making a decision about a plan, program, or policy.
  2. Scoping, where objectives are created and the process is outlined.
  3. Assessment, which involves determining baseline data, predicting an outcome, and conducting literature reviews, qualitative analysis and/or quantitative modeling to gather information relating to the decision.  The analysis may identify specific vulnerable populations that are affected by the decision and may be considered when weighing pros and cons of a decision.
  4. Recommendation, which is based on the analysis completed in the assessment stage.
  5. Reporting, which disseminates the findings of the HIA to key decision makers and stakeholders.  It includes the recommendations from the previous step.
  6. Monitoring and Evaluation, where the overall quality of the HIA is addressed, along with determining the impact the HIA had on the decision-making process and monitoring the health effects of the final decision for the plan, program, or policy.

Here in Kane County

The Kane County Health Department and Development and Community Services Department jointly applied for and were awarded a grant in 2011 to undergo training and conduct an HIA.  The HIA team is examining an amendment to the county’s Farmland Protection Program.  In 2012-2013, the Kane County Farmland Protection Commission and the Kane County Board will consider an amendment to Ordinance 01-67, the Farmland Protection Program.

The proposed amendment, an implementation strategy of the county’s 2040 Plan, will expand eligibility criteria to include small food producing farms, and ensure that acreage remains available for local food production. At present, 100% of participants in the farm protection program are conventional row crop and livestock producers situated in rural Kane. This policy balances investment in permanent farmland protection in all planning regions (food and farms, critical growth, and sustainable urban corridors) and encourages local food production for the benefit of population health.

Kane County was awarded a $125,000 Health Impact Assessment (HIA) grant to study theNature benefits of preserving smaller farms as a way to preserve Kane County’s rich farmland, while providing fresh fruits and vegetables to our residents. Increasing access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is a strategy to meet one of four health priorities outlined in the Community Health Improvement Plan: Supporting health behaviors that promote well-being and prevent disease.

The Kane County Health Department and Kane County Development and Community Services Department jointly applied for the HIA grant. The HIA grant is funded by the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

HIA Update

November 2013
Kane County Health Impact Assessment Report, Proposed Food and Farm Ordinance to Support Locally Grown Food in Kane County
Kane County Health Impact Assessment Executive Summary
Kane County Health Impact Assessment Evaluation Report
The Kane County Health Impact Assessment (HIA) report is complete and based on the recommendations of the report, a new Food and Farm Ordinance entitled Growing for Kane was unanimously approved by the Kane County Board.  This ordinance authorizes the creation of a new Growing for Kane program which will seek grant funding to protect land throughout the county that is being used to grow fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy for human consumption.

Report evidence shows that increasing local production of fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy in the county will have a positive impact on health:

  • Residents who have access to fresh produce will purchase and consume it
  • There is a demand for fresh produce, based on results from Link usage at farmers markets located in areas with vulnerable populations
  • There will be an increase in jobs and a boost to the local economy if more fruits and vegetables for human consumption are grown in Kane County
  • There is a strong positive relationship between income and better health outcomes
  • Local stakeholders support the plan based on responses from several surveys

The economic portion of the report shows that by adding approximately 1,000 acres of fruit and vegetable production to the already existing base of specialty crops grown in Kane County, more than $7 million and 103 jobs will be added each year to the county’s overall economy and will support the regional market.

Health Impact Project Grant Announcement

Below is a summary of the key recommendations
Recommendation - Kane County should create and pass a separate, sister ordinance instead of amending the current ordinance 01-67 by Fall, 2013.
Results - Keeps current program and its history intact, demonstrates the past success and desire to continue it.  Sister ordinance will allow for more flexibility in funding.

Recommendation - Under the new ordinance, Kane County will offer as appropriate perpetual and term easements; leases of public land, along with funding and incentives, to support retention of existing producers; create more scattered-site and smaller farms transitioning to producing fruits and vegetables.
Results - Secures long term use of the land for food production giving the farmer and the community commitment to local food.

Recommendation - Kane County should work with Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB) and Kane County Farm Bureau to study the feasibility locating a food hub by June, 2014.
Results - Farmers have motivation to grow more vegetables with centralized cleaning, packaging and distribution available off farm.

Recommendation - The Farm Bureau should assist those farmers who apply to sell produce, meats and dairy for local consumption with resources and partnership such as Meet the Buyer events and other linkage programs.
Results - More healthy produce and protein is available for Kane County residents, and increases Kane County farmers’ earnings potential when paired with food hub.

Recommendation - The Farm Bureau and Kane County should participate in linking procuring institutions such as NIFB and schools with local growers for pre-season contracts.
Results - Ensures vulnerable population has access to fresh produce purchased on their behalf through the food bank or local schools.

Recommendation - The ordinance should allow participating farms to be located in all areas of Kane County and be of any size.  
Results -Brings the products to the areas that most need them and spur economic activity countywide.

Recommendation - The Farm Bureau should lead the discussion of creating a branding campaign “Grown in Kane” by June, 2014.  
Results - Helps farmers market their goods and encourages local businesses to purchase their products.

Recommendation - The Kane County Health Department should lead a multi-department review of current policies and regulations relating to local food production by June, 2014.  
Results - Determines if any can be changed, updated, or removed to better support local food production.


The Pew Charitable Trusts
Health Impact Project
Human Impact Partners
CDC HIA Information
World Health Organization HIA Information