Evaluating the PA Fresh Food Financing Initiative

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The Food Trust





Organization Overview:

The Food Trust's mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. Working with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers, we've developed a comprehensive approach to improved food access that combines nutrition education and greater availability of affordable, healthy food.

Project Name:

Evaluating the PA Fresh Food Financing Initiative
Project Type: 
Program Evaluation

Project Overview:

The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI), a program created in the Pennsylvania (PA) FY 18-19 state budget within the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). The PA FFFI is a statewide public-private financing program that invests in new or expanding grocery stores and other healthy food retail outlets in communities throughout PA. The FFFI provides one-time grants and loans to food retailers in order to increase access to healthy, affordable grocery food options and to improve economic opportunities for lower-income, underserved communities in urban, rural and suburban areas across the state. Overseen by the PA DCED, the FFFI is administered by The Food Trust (TFT) in partnership with PA-based community development financial institutions (CDFIs) representing key regions across the state including Reinvestment Fund, Bridgeway Capital and Community First Fund.

For this project we are seeking help capturing and succinctly sharing key impact metrics for the program as a means of evaluation.  We’re looking to capture the breadth of impact from the program through a summary of summative outputs across all projects (e.g., # of applications, # of projects funded, # of food retail locations preserved or created in rural areas, # of jobs created or retained, project success rate), and we’re also looking for support capturing  depth of community impact through outreach with store owners, residents, employees, food system representatives and funders to develop case studies on 3-5 projects funded to date.

This summary of impacts and case studies will be used to communicate the impact the program is having with program partners and stakeholders in PA, as well as with partners operating similar programs across the country and at the Federal level. It will also help us to understand any key gaps in our impact so we can adapt to fill those as appropriate.

We’re looking for two key deliverables from this project:
1.  Dashboard summarizing key measures for all FFFI funded projects. With support from key program staff, the Fels student will capture and summarize cross-cutting program impact measures that have been and would continue to be collected from all funded project sites in a succinct “dashboard” (e.g., number of funded projects, jobs created, food retail locations retained or supported, dollars of investments, square feet of healthy food retail space developed, and potentially  things like annual produce sales ($ dollars), annual produce sales (as % of total sales), annual SNAP sales (as % of total sales, annual WIC sales (as % of total sales). Establishing shared measures and developing a system for easy communication will be crucial to capturing the PA FFFI’s collective impact over time.
2.  Case studies capturing community-based research of 3-5 PA FFFI funded projects to measure individual and community-level impacts. With support from key program staff, the Fels student would lead the process of capturing the stories of funded projects and their impact on communities, ranging from store renovations and upgrades to new food systems infrastructure projects that aim to strengthen local agriculture and the economy, along with food access. Project sites will be selected for in-depth study with priority for the first projects funded through the program (6 have been funded to-date). Another priority will continue to be diversity of projects in the evaluation profile, so that data are collected from a range of sites.

This component of the evaluation will include collecting a range of information from multiple stakeholders at different time-points, such as: stakeholder interviews and site specific data (e.g., square footage of space for fresh food retail and changes in operating costs before and after store renovations); conducting interviews to gather qualitative data from participants and community members; and/or photo-documentation to visualize PA FFFI’s community-level impact. The goals will be to develop 3-5 case studies, or “Success Stories” to be disseminated in collaboration with PA FFFI partners.

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326