Farm to School is a relatively new approach in Canada, and literature on the topic is limited as compared to the US. Farm to school efforts in Canada to date have focused on developing programs, and not as much on research.
Farm to Cafeteria Canada is currently developing a Farm to School Evaluation Framework / Toolkit for Canada to enable practitioners, researchers and policy makers to better articulate, track, measure and communicate the impacts of farm to school activities and policies. The framework will include agreed-upon research questions and priority outcomes worthy of consistent measurement along with related indicators and measures. The framework will also make strong links to other policy priorities such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, healthy school communities, student well-being, and the momentum towards sustainable regional food systems.
In 2014, the US National Farm to School Network undertook a collaborative process to develop a cross-sectoral Evaluation Framework for farm to school to guide practice, research and policy development for the growing field. The results of this process included the articulation of a series of priority outcomes, measures and indicators that could be tracked at the program, research and policy levels, as well as the development of the US Benefits of Farm to School fact sheet that shares the positive impacts of farm to school that have been documented through research.
To date Canada has developed an emerging map of the Canadian farm to school landscape, released a handful of peer reviewed journal articles about various aspects of farm to school plus some grey literature as documented in Benefits of Farm to School: Evidence in Canada. We have also articulated emerging empirical evidence of how farm to school initiatives in Canada align with the new Canada’s Food Guide.
Given Canada’s unique context, there would be great benefit from the development of an Evaluation Framework for Farm to School in Canada to enable practitioners, researchers and policy makers to better articulate, track, measure and communicate the impacts of the farm to school approach.
There is a huge opportunity for farm to school to expand and to thrive in Canada. We hope that the development of a Canadian evaluation framework for farm to school will make a strong contribution to the great momentum we’re seeing in this field.
A Farm to School Evaluation Framework for Canada will:
The framework PROCESS will also seek to:
Over the longer term we anticipate that the framework will allow stakeholders to:
The process of developing a Farm to School Evaluation Framework for Canada will involve:
To inform the development of the evaluation framework and accompanying tools, Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s F2SCDI project partners will be organizing a series of regional roundtable conversations across Canada in 2020 so that diverse audiences can help us identify priority outcomes, indicators and measures for farm to school activities in Canada.
The purposes of these roundtables are: to educate, inspire and engage interested audiences in the farm to school approach and its benefits; and to inform the development of the Evaluation Framework. The roundtable discussions will be guided by the question “what evidence do you need to support farm to school efforts?”
We are also working through other ways for people to contribute to the framework, whether through online discussions, surveys, or reviewing the draft framework. We’ll be sharing more information about these opportunities once they’re available.
For additional information , please contact Carolyn Webb, Regional Lead for Farm to School in Ontario, at email@example.com.
The development of this evaluation framework has been an initiative of the Farm to School: Canada Digs In! partnership:
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