Online Program

Designing and completing an evaluation of the impact of a local 501c3 providing healthy evening meals to 4500 disadvantaged children in kent county, Michigan

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tracy Thompson, MPH Candidate, Institute for Health Care Studies, Michigan State University, Grand Rapids, MI
John Risley, PhD, Community Research Institute Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI
Kristine Kounelis, IHCS, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Kids' Food Basket (KFB), a decade-old 501c3 organization, provides portable evening meals to 4500 children in Kent County, Michigan. The KFB leadership requested assistance to design a program evaluation. The evaluation attempts to answer: 1) Is the food provided by KFB eaten? 2) What is being eaten most? 3) Is the program reaching those children and families in need? 4) How might the program improve?, and 5) how can KFB continue to evaluate its programs in the future?

The evaluation design included five methods: 1) a child survey, 2) a waste study, 3) teacher surveys, 4) parent surveys, and 5) child interviews. Satisfactory numbers and response rates were obtained: 1197 bag surveys (26.6%), 149 waste study measures, 77 teacher surveys (27.3%), 422 parent surveys, and 65 child interviews.

Results showed much of the food provided is consumed. Children are least likely to consume carrots, and while bananas are popular with younger children, they are less so with older children. Sandwiches are often discarded or given away. Most of the meals reach the desired audience, however the program could increase qualification to eliminate waste. A large majority of parents use the meal as intended, but some do not understand the purpose of the full evening meal, using it as a snack or convenience item.

This evaluation provides a template for the evaluation of programs that provide food in one location that is consumed elsewhere. Lessons learned during the evaluation are discussed to improve the evaluation process moving forward.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
Design an evaluation for a program that provides 4500 healthy evening meals consumed off-site. Demonstrate the efficacy of the evaluation. Assess the impact of the program. Identify program improvements.

Keyword(s): Evaluation, Food Security

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the lead on several community program evaluation projects that were funded by foundations such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia. I was lead on this project but conferred with Dr. Risley who performs many evaluations in his role at the Community Research Institute at Grand Valley State University.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.