Local food policy coalitions: Evaluation issues as seen by academics, project organizers, and funders

Karen L. Webb, David Pelletier, Audrey N. Maretzki, Jennifer Wilkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Several different evaluation issues are perceived as important by people involved with innovative projects intended to improve local food and nutrition systems; particularly the establishment of local food policy coalitions. Several such coalitions have been formed in North America, Europe, and Australia with the goal of improving community food security and promoting sustainable local food systems. Pioneer coalitions have served as models, yet there has been little systematic evaluation of these models. A qualitative study was conducted to identify factors that may hinder evaluation efforts. In group telephone interviews, we sought the views of academics, project organizers, and funders, a total of 24 key informants. Pressures to evaluate were assessed differently by the three groups of key informants. Academics felt the focus of evaluation should be on the effectiveness of the process used to discuss issues and formulate policies and plans. Project organizers and funders perceived a need to assess project impact and outcomes. A lack of suitable evaluation models and methods was viewed as a formidable barrier. The use of inappropriate methods and premature impact evaluation were noted as potential threats to project sustainability. External constraints and resource limitations were also said to inhibit evaluation efforts. It appears that several other factors may also be impeding progress in conducting more (and more useful) evaluations including: (1) the apparent negative connotation of evaluation and the limited benefits expected from evaluation by stakeholders, (2) a lack of consensus about important evaluation questions, (3) insufficient evaluation expertise among project organizers, and (4) inadequate appreciation of increasing accountability pressures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

Keywords

  • Coalitions
  • Community food security
  • Community nutrition
  • Evaluation
  • Food systems
  • Sustainable agriculture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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