Developing Effective Methods to Assess the Impact of Community Food Security Programs on Purchases of Local Farm Produce in Three Southern Communities

Project Overview

LS99-101
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1999: $20,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2000
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Ellen Huntley
Florida Organic Growers

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: corn, peanuts, potatoes, sugarcane
  • Fruits: berries (other), grapes, melons, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, artichokes, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), peppers, rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms

Practices

  • Farm Business Management: economic/marketing
  • Sustainable Communities: community services

    Abstract:

    Neighborhood Nutrition Network (NNN) of Gainesville, Florida, North Florida Educational Development Corporation (NFEDC) of Gretna, Florida and Baton Rouge Economic and Agriculture Development Cooperation (BREADA) of Baton Rouge, Louisiana make up the SSARE planning grant team. The project collaborators designed and attended a training for participatory planning evaluation called, “Planning Evaluations for Community Food Security Programs; do our programs impact purchases of locally produced food?” and developed capacities to self-evaluate their programs. The information that we learned in the training showed us that designing a larger scale evaluation of community food security programs on local produce sales can be carried out if programs objective outcomes are directly linked to produce sales.

    Although our original goal included a plan for the three organizations to work together to design a large scale evaluation project to assess the effects of community food security programs on local produce sales, the information that we learned in the training has convinced us that this would not be wise at this time for the three organizations. We learned that outcome measurement variables should be very closely linked with program activities, with sound theory backing up the linkages. Also, in order to assess the effects of the programs across the different sites, we would need to have very similar objectives and outcomes. The strongest common activities and goals between two of the organizations was community gardening – thus, NNN and BREADA collaborated to submit a proposal to Southern SARE professional development program. This proposal is entitled: “Growing with the Community: a Hands-on Training Design for Agriculture Educators, Farmers and Community Leaders.”

    Each project participant reported that the skills gained in participatory evaluation and process and outcome evaluation has been helpful in strategic planning and internal progress monitoring. For example, in the training, there were several important discussions, which lead to the creation of a framework for describing community food security program goals. These common goals are referred to as the “5 E’s”: Improving Economic outlook, Improving Environmental sustainability, Increasing Enjoyment, Fostering Education, and Empowering people and communities. These goals complement the goals of sustainable agriculture that address environment, economic and social needs of communities.

    Neighborhood Nutrition Network is utilizing process-outcome evaluation in their Alachua County Local Food Project. North Florida Educational Development Corporation (NFEDC) of Gretna, Florida has initiated the use of EBT cards at their farmers’ market. Both farmers and consumers will benefit from evaluation of the use of EBT cards and potential use of the cards in future growing seasons. Farmers that are part of BREADA of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as well of as other farmers in the southern region, would particularly benefit from results of evaluation of a program such as the EBT cards in farmers’ markets.

    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 or SARE.