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 and food service that promote the health and resilience of their community’s economic, ecological, and social systems.
Now in its fourth year, the Collaborative has over 100 members from 30 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 over 100 members from 30 states 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
Pilot Project 2019-2020
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 leaders from across the supply chain has identified the following metrics:
Head over to the tools and resources section to dig into these metrics and learn more about how to implement them into your own work.
2019-2020 Pilot Project
Through this project our consortium of farm to institution leaders from across the supply chain:
Our Vision for Project Impact
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.
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
Tools and Resources
Metrics in Action
Here are just a few examples of how Collaborative members are piloting the metrics across the country!
Green Umbrella’s Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council (GCRFPC) is using the metrics to help evaluate the effectiveness of farm to institution policies, programs and activities in our region. GCRFPC is working with regional institutional buyers and value chain partners to pilot the metrics in order to consistently collect, analyze and share data on our local food system. The farm impact metrics will help identify regional best practices that can be celebrated and shared to increase the overall impact of Farm to Institution programs and anchor institutions both locally and nationwide.
Farm Fare is a tech-enabled platform that provides regional food hubs with a seamless way to collaborate with one another to better serve institutional customers. Farm Fare has built the pilot metrics into our software to simultaneously collect farm impact metrics as each transaction occurs. This allows hubs to easily synthesize and report on their efforts to support farmers. Application of this is first being piloted with a food hub network in the Northwest (Puget Sound Food Hub, LINC Foods and Western Montana Growers Cooperative.)
The Northwest Food Hub Network connects regional producers and local institutions throughout the inland Northwest (from Seattle, WA to Missoula, MT) who are practicing values-based procurement and/or local purchasing. The farm impact metrics are being collected for each partner food hub and shared with institutions to help them understand and measure the true value of the products they will buy, something that has been a persistent hurdle in increasing the number and size of these purchases.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) plans to integrate some of the metrics into the reporting procedure for the 2021 California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program, which the state launched as a pilot program this year. The grant will provide funding for school districts to increase their procurement of whole or minimally processed California grown or produced foods, and to integrate farm to school education with procurement programs. School districts that receive grant funding will submit regular procurement invoices to CDFA-F2F for reimbursement; the invoices will include some of the farm impact metrics so that CDFA-F2F can gather data to tell a meaningful story of Farm to School procurement across the state, demonstrate impact, and identify barriers.
Farm to Institution New England (FINE) is piloting the metrics with colleges and universities through our new campus tracking tool and data center. The data center will replace past surveys and streamline the process for collecting data, generating reports, and viewing progress over time. FINE is working with colleges to support better tracking using a modified version of the Metrics Collaborative tracking system. This tracking tool will allow colleges to track purchases using the farm impact metrics as well as a variety of other values-based metrics.
The Food Connection at the University of Kentucky is working with our food service management company, Aramark and technology partner Farm Logix to embed the metrics into our invoices and tracking system. We have developed a custom database that archives metrics classifications for known items, generates YTD reports for local procurement key performance indicators, and identifies newly claimed items for classification.
Sustainable Food Center, Kitchen Sync Strategies, and Manor Independent School District are piloting the farm impact metrics over the next two years. The pilot will look at implementation in a mid-sized peri-urban school district.
The UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) in partnership with REAP Food Group are collaborating to pilot the metrics with Madison Metropolitan School District, the second largest school district in the state. The pilot will start with applying the metrics to 2018-2019 school year purchasing data to establish a pre-COVID baseline, followed by more current analysis.
The West Virginia University Office of Health Affairs is using the farm impact metrics to review institutional investment by hospitals through their community health needs assessments and Community Health Improvement Programs. The goal is to demonstrate the impact these community food programs have in increasing access to healthy, nutritious food as well as the overall impact on our shared agricultural system. We hope to make it easier for hospitals and institutions to be in compliance with our state local food procurement law of buying 5%, and to change buying methods from just filling a salad bar, to engaging in a way that builds food sovereignty in communities.