- Assess current participation, gaps, and needs.
- Determine specific and realistic goals with target deadlines, like one year or five years from now.
- The Delaware Department of Education set specific participation targets for school breakfast, summer meals, and afterschool meals in partnership with the Governor’s and First Lady’s offices, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Food Bank of Delaware. Representatives continue to meet and work together towards achieving those goals on a specific timeline.
- Create an implementation plan around those goals, breaking down the steps needed to reach the goal and determining the resources and partners needed for each step.
- As an example, in addition to setting minimum and “stretch” goals for overall growth, the Kentucky Department of Education’s SFSP staff sets specific targets for the number of new sites by type, such as rural development housing sites versus libraries versus farmer’s markets.
- Determine whether additional data points must be collected in order to adequately track progress. For example, if promoting Breakfast After the Bell is a strategy to increase school breakfast participation, it is important to gather data on whether schools have implemented a Breakfast After the Bell model.
- The Michigan Department of Education added a question about breakfast service model at each school to its application. The online application allows users to hover over each model for a definition.
- Post or release information about state agency priorities, goals, and strategies.
- Create a dashboard that tracks key indicators of progress towards goals in order to keep leaders and relevant stakeholders informed and motivated.
- Incorporate applicable data on performance and progress towards goals into agency and/or school websites or report cards.
Tracking various indicators – number of sponsors, sites, meals served, participants as well as site and participant eligibility – can help you to:
- Prioritize outreach to districts/schools that are eligible to enroll in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) to maximize utilization.
- Assess the implementation and performance of each school’s breakfast service model (e.g. Traditional Cafeteria Before the Bell, Grab and Go Before the Bell, Grab and Go to the Classroom, Breakfast in the Classroom, etc.).
- Visualize the most the strategic targets for summer and afterschool sites. For example, map current CACFP Afterschool Meals sites to identify gaps. This is especially helpful if the map also includes schools that have more than 50 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, or ideally, school attendance zones color coded to indicate area eligibility.
- Identify high-performing schools, sponsors, and sites who may be champions for the programs and sources for best practices.
- Identify potentially underperforming schools, sponsors, and sites for technical assistance. Likewise, use data to identify those with declines in the number of sites or meals served, as this may indicate a need for technical assistance or shifting demographics that require new strategies.
- Eliminate the need for some data requests by making as much data as possible publicly available on agency and/or school websites.
- Be transparent with participating sponsors, schools, and sites about the information being made available, and abide by all state and agency policies regarding data sharing and privacy.
- Publicly sharing site-level data is possible: the Pennsylvania Department of Education recently began sharing site-level program participation data in the “reports” section of its Food and Nutrition website.
- If data analysis, mapping, or targeted outreach are beyond the capacity of the state agency, implement data sharing agreements with agencies or non-profit organizations that are able to provide this support.
- If one or more organizations regularly request data, implement an agreement that specifies when and how specific data points will be shared.
- For example, the Texas Department of Agriculture has a memorandum of understanding with Texas Hunger Initiative to regularly share data.
- Develop and make available forms or templates to facilitate data requests, helping external organizations to understand what data is available and providing standard guidance on how it may be used.