Implementing Food Charter Strategies Statewide

Prepared by: Johnstad & Associates

We have some great news to share. At the beginning of October, we worked with Jamie Bain from University of Minnesota Extension to send out a brief survey to all the local, regional, and statewide networks and groups identified as working on improving access to, availability of, and/or affordability of healthy foods within Minnesota.

The survey questions asked respondents to note any changes in the status of their network or group and to specify the focus of their work, recent or expected outcomes, and what evaluation resources would be most helpful.

What we Found

So far, we have received responses from 47 networks and groups with a few more coming in each week. Only two of the responding networks or groups are no longer meeting. About 17% (that’s 8) indicate their current focus is on re-launching or strengthening the health of their network.

What is most amazing and wonderful is that the work of the active networks and groups aligns with one or more of the Minnesota Food Charter goals. 

Here is a high-level summary of what we have learned so far:

Charter Goal Areas

10 are working to improve Healthy Food Availability 

Examples of supporting work:

  • Expanding farmers markets
  • Cultivating and sharing food through neighborhood projects
  • Expanding community-based agriculture sites

8 are working to improve Healthy Food Accessibility 

Examples of supporting work:

  • Expanding mobile food shelves
  • Creating awareness and change about the barriers to accessing food due to lack of transportation
  • Studying seniors’ eating habits to determine ways to increase access to healthy food for low-income seniors

7 are working to improve Healthy Food Skills 

Examples of supporting work:

  • Improving food skills, with emphasis on FACS and school gardens
  • Supporting farmers through increased education and training opportunities
  • Hosting food-related learning experiences
  • Providing tangible education and tangible resources to gardeners

7 are working to improve Healthy Food Infrastructure 

Examples of supporting work:

  • Promoting sustainable methods of food production and distribution to protect air, land and water, and promote healthy communities
  • Reducing the use of pesticides

4 are working to improve Healthy Food Affordability 

Examples of supporting work:

  • Providing alternative forms of payment at farmers markets
  • Advising policymakers and elected officials on how to assure residents have access to affordable food that is safe and nutritious

Right now, many networks and groups are collecting and summarizing information about their results.

To demonstrate short-term results of their work, networks and groups are collecting information, such as pounds of produce grown, the number of people trained, the number of policies adopted, and the number of new mobile food shelf programs. This information will help to tell the story of the immediate impact of their work. For example: In 2017, 1,000 pounds of produce was grown in a community garden and 5 new mobile food shelf programs were launched.

To demonstrate longer-term results, networks and groups are tracking information such as rates of food security and access, with the hope that their work will be one factor in the complex web issues that influence food security and access, that help to increase food security and access.

Next Steps

Many networks and groups would also find the following evaluation topics useful: 

  • Analyzing evaluation data (such as simple techniques or templates to use), and
  • Sharing back evaluation data (such as model templates for infographics and reporting outcomes, knowing who and how to share results).

Based on this feedback, we are planning on working to develop resources related to these evaluation topics in the coming months.

Collecting information to observe statewide movement and facilitate statewide connections
We plan to revise this survey to include a checklist of Minnesota Food Charter Goals currently being worked on and a place to specify how your work supports this goal.   This information will help us to observe statewide movement related with the Minnesota Food Charter Goals and help to build new relationships throughout Minnesota through connecting people doing similar work.