Farm-to-school Yolo: creating an evaluation framework for program expansion
|Institution:||California State University – Sacramento|
|Department:||Public Policy and Administration|
|Keywords:||Local sourcing; School lunch; School nutrition|
|Full text PDF:||http://hdl.handle.net/10211.3/138641|
In 2011, Yolo County Agricultural Commissioner John Young announced plans to utilize existing farm-to-school programs at two school districts located within the county ??? Davis Joint Unified School District and Winters Joint Unified School District ??? as models to spearhead farm-to-school programs in the three other school districts within the county ??? Esparto Unified School District, Washington Unified School District, and Woodland Joint Unified School District ??? and the Yolo County Office of Education???s Head Start Preschool Program. This county-led farm-to-school program model, Farm-to-School Yolo, is unique in that specific school district programming is outside the jurisdiction of the county governance structure. As such, the appropriate role for the county is not to directly procure and serve local food on school menus, but to facilitate the efforts of school districts in doing so. In order to evaluate whether Farm-to-School Yolo is best facilitating farm-to-school program expansion in partnership with the five school districts and Head Start program in the county, I surveyed existing literature and examined the Davis Farm-to-School program as a case study example in order to identify the thematic challenges all farm-to-school programs face. I determined that organization, sourcing, costs, funding, and participation are the five main factors influencing farm-to-school program development and operations, and used these key themes to create a farm-to-school evaluation framework. I relied upon the county website and other external sources such as grant applications and news articles to learn how Farm-to-School Yolo was being implemented, and assessed actions taken against the farm-to-school evaluation framework to determine whether program efforts were being appropriately concentrated. Since Farm-to-School Yolo is not responsible for day-to-day administration of direct services to students, its organization, souring, costs, funding, and participation efforts must support broader program infrastructure that benefit all school districts within the county as equally as possible, compared to other farm-to-school programs that operate more insularly. Utilizing this evaluation framework, I concluded that Farm-to-School Yolo is strategically utilizing the legitimacy it holds from operating at the county level to support measured systemic changes that build up individual school district farm-to-school programs. It has spearheaded initiatives for which there is broad consensus and mutual benefit, such as consolidation of work under the Yolo Farm to Fork organization, creation of Harvest Hub Yolo and Harvest of the Month, and application of its California Department of Food and Agriculture grant, engendering goodwill amongst all stakeholders. As program expansion continues, however, Farm-to-School Yolo must balance countywide goals against competing local pressures to ensure all students across the county continue to benefit from the program.