Metrics Collaborative

Good Food, Good Data, Big Impact

About the National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative

We are a group of national Farm to Institution leaders dedicated to developing best practices for measuring the impact of the institutional market across the supply chain. Our nation-wide, multi-sector collaborative seeks to develop a common set of food procurement metrics, benchmarks, and best-practices for institutional dining that promote the health and resilience of their community’s economic, ecological, and social systems.

Now in its fourth year, the Collaborative has over 40 members from 20 different states, representing the country’s leaders in farm to institution work. Through quarterly calls, occasional in-person meetings, presentations at national conferences, and an active listserv, members of the Collaborative share resources (reports, research), tools (surveys, data capture tools), and foundational FTI metrics terminology.

The ultimate aim of the Collaborative is to codify the more-than-financial values associated with ‘local’ food into a replicable set of metrics that support meaningful tracking, benchmarking, and impact measurement across institutions and the nation.

Meet the Collaborative

The National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative consists of 40+ members based in more than 20 states working at municipal, county, multi-county, state, regional, and national levels. On this map, green states are those containing members of the group. New members are welcome from all states!

Shared Metrics and Collaborative Research

The Issue we have identified

Good metrics inform strategy and lead to more targeted and effective programming, and establish baselines which allow organizations to benchmark success. Metrics are a valuable tool in making the case for farm to institution activity to policy makers and funders, and they inspire those on the ground to meet specific goals.

While member organizations are tracking a variety of metrics around the impact of institutions on the economy, the environment, and the health of our communities, there is currently no shared set of Farm to Institution (FTI) metrics which has made it difficult to measure, promote, and advance these efforts.

What we’re doing about it

Recognizing that codifying the many values of ‘local’ food is a complicated project, the very first step of our collaborative is to explore the Farm Impact dimension of local food. By beginning with farm-impact metrics, this project will lay a foundation for future metrics development while also solving a timely need for coordination and standardizing of farm-impact metrics across institutions and agencies.

2019-2020 Pilot Project

In the fall of 2019, the National Farm to Institution Collaborative launched a 1-year pilot project, sponsored by USDA AMS, to identify key farm impact metrics that can be used by farm to institution practitioners across the country.

Through this project our consortium of farm to institution stakeholders from across the supply chain will:

  • 1
    Develop 3-4 metrics that will measure Farm Impact in a way that generates relevant and meaningful data, and that are feasible to implement.
  • 2
    Pilot and refine those metrics in a real-world setting and by soliciting feedback from key stakeholders such as distributors and procurement data managers.
  • 3
    Create a suite of tools and protocols designed for F2I stakeholders that will reliably capture those metrics
  • 4
    Perform extensive outreach to share those metrics and tools with institutions, distributors, tracking tool developers, researchers, and others working in this space nationally

Our vision for the impact of this project

  • 1
    The metrics will harmonize data capture and reporting relative to Farm Impact across institution types, and within federal data collection and research efforts.
  • 2
    Our steering committee members, who represent thousands of Farm to Institution programs across the nation, will integrate our Farm Impact metrics into their efforts, and promote adoption of these metrics to all their stakeholders
  • 3
    Our federal partners will integrate these metrics into the design and implementation of their research and programming efforts.
  • 4
    Through our outreach efforts we encourage and facilitate the adoption of these metrics by other farm to institution stakeholders, as we clearly demonstrate the value of having harmonized metrics for benchmarking, reporting, and evaluation of Farm to Institution initiatives. This includes: 1) Institutions, 2) Dining Service Providers, 3) Food distributors (broadline and specialty), and 4) Data management service providers.

Pilot Steering Committee

The Collaborative Pilot Steering Committee is leading the 2019-2020 pilot project (see more information below). Collaborative member organizations are geographically diverse and represent a variety of institutional sectors. Members of the Collaborative Steering Committee have wide reaching networks and are committed to connecting those networks to this project.

Lilian Brislen, Executive Director, Food Connection at the University of Kentucky 

Julie Brewer, Director of the Office Of Community Food Systems, USDA Food and Nutrition Service 

Ashley Chaifetz, Social Science Research Analyst, USDA Food and Nutrition Service 

Hannah Leighton, Research and Evaluation Manager, Farm to Institution New England 

Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems

Colleen McKinney, Director of Engagement, Center for Good Food Purchasing 

Jeff O’Hara, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, USDA AMS 

Emma Sirois, Associate Director, Associate Director, Healthy Food in Health Care Program and Health Care Without Harm 

Lacy Stephens, Program Manager, National Farm to School Network 

Nora Stewart, Food Systems Program Manager, CHIP’s Farm to Institution Center

Tina White, Program Coordinator, Real Food Generation 

Stay tuned for more information, tools, resources, and ways to engage as this project progresses!

Join Us!

The full collaborative has an active listserv and quarterly calls that are open to anyone working in the FTI metrics space. If you’d like to learn more about the work we do, join the listserv, or hear more about the 1-year pilot project, please fill out this form.

Look For Us At These Upcoming Conferences

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