During the 2022-2023 academic year, SOFSA’s Evaluation Intern, Ellen Pitstick, developed a plan to evaluate SOFSA and its impact. Evaluating a food council like SOFSA is important because it allows members and leaders to understand how the network operates, how it is achieving its goals, and how both of these change over time.

With guidance from Maura Ackerman and their own research on food councils, Ellen’s two-part evaluation plan centers around SOFSA’s mission statement:

“Our mission is to strengthen our food system so that it works for all people in Syracuse and Onondaga County. We bring communities together to foster relationships, develop projects, align resources, and advocate for policies to improve the health of our neighbors and our environment.”

– SOFSA Bylaws, ratified 2021

The first part of the evaluation focuses on SOFSA’s process, or how it operates. Based on the mission statement, two processes at the center of SOFSA operations are (1) its commitment to equity and justice (strengthening the food system (“so that it works for all people”) and (2) its organizational structure (“bringing communities together”).

The second part of the evaluation focuses on SOFSA’s performance, or the network’s progress towards achieving its goals. This section considers SOFSA’s work in the four action areas described in the mission statement: (1) foster relationships, (2) develop projects, (3) align resources, and (4) advocate for policies.

Ellen’s evaluation plan allows SOFSA staff to complete an evaluation of the network’s process and performance during a specific year. For each section of the evaluation, the plan includes a series of questions that can be answered using data from that year. After collecting all of the data and answering all of the questions, SOFSA can see how its work aligns with its mission statement, what areas are going well, what areas may need changes, and how each of these things is different from previous years.

To learn more about Ellen’s Evaluation Plan for SOFSA and the results of their evaluation for the 2022 calendar year, click here to download the 2022 Evaluation Summary.