New England Farm to Institution Metrics Project
The New England Farm to Institution Metrics Project was initiated by FINE in March of 2015 to inform New England farm to institution stakeholders (e.g., practitioners, policy makers, funders and financers, researchers) about the role of the farm to institution sector in our regional food system. The project covers all facets of the supply chain, from production to distribution and consumption. Our focus is on three institutional sectors: schools, colleges and hospitals. Our metrics work is funded by The John Merck Fund and the Henry P. Kendall Foundation.
Project data comes from secondary sources like the USDA's Farm to School Census and Census of Agriculture, and Health Care Without Harm’s Healthy Food in Health Care Survey. In addition to our secondary research, we have implemented three original surveys designed to fill gaps in existing baseline information. The first was a survey of 60 food distributors, the second was a survey of 105 colleges and universities with dining services, and the third was a survey of 225 producers.
Highlights of the data are featured on the New England Farm to Institution Metrics Dashboard. Our original research tools and clean data sets are available to the public. The metrics project is supported by a number of advisors who are listed in each of our individual research reports.
Hannah Leighton, Research and Evaluation Manager
Lydia Oberholtzer, Project Consultant
Laura Gallagher, Metrics and Special Projects Intern
Kaitlin Haskins, Communications Manager
Peter Allison, Executive Director
Our research is available in an interactive online dashboard of key regional farm to institution indicators. The dashboard is regularly updated with new information as it becomes available.
In performing this work, FINE has used secondary data sources including the USDA Farm to School Census, the USDA Census of Agriculture, the Wallace Center Food Hub Survey, and surveys fielded by the National Farm to School Network, Health Care Without Harm and Real Food Challenge. FINE has also undertaken original primary data collection work in order to fill data gaps, notably in the farm to college sector, at the producer level, and in the middle of the value chain (food distributors and hubs). The dashboard also features a comprehensive database of related research being done by partners.
Our first step in measuring the impact of farm to institution initiatives in the region was to collaboratively develop a common set of key indicators. Our advisory team has assisted in the selection of key indicators, which fall into five categories:
Key Indicator Categories
1) End of the Value Chain (K-12 schools, colleges/universities, hospitals)
2) Middle of the Value Chain (distributors, food hubs)
3) Beginning of the Value Chain (agricultural producers)
4) Programming & Leadership (demonstrating the impact of regional farm to institution initiatives)
5) Food System & Food Access (illustrating the regional food system)
Detailed information about the indicators under each category is listed in the sidebar of this handout. This list is not exhaustive, but it is up to date as of now.
1. Food Distributor Report
“Getting it There: The Role of New England Food Distributors in Providing Local Food to Institutions” presents in-depth findings and makes specific, data-based recommendations for food distributors – including food hubs – as well as government officials, funders, and institutions.
2. Farm to Campus Report
“Campus Dining 101: A Benchmark Study on Farm to College in New England” presents in-depth findings and makes specific, data-based recommendations for institutions of higher education as well as government officials, funders, and institutions.
3. Producer Report
“Producer Perspectives: The New England Farm-to-Institution Market” presents in-depth findings and makes specific, data-driven recommendations for farmers, producer service providers, government officials, funders, and institutions.
National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative
The organizations in the National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative work across the country to measure and track the impact of the institutional market from producer to buyer. We have 30 members based in 20 states working at municipal, county, multi-county, state, regional, and national levels. We hold quarterly calls and occasional in-person meetings; offer opportunities for collaborative partnership; and provide a platform for sharing best practices, foundational metrics terminology, tools, and resources.
For more information, download our flyer:
To learn more about our metrics project, contact Hannah Leighton at [email protected].