Summer Meals

Part Four: Tracking and Assessing For Process Evaluation

In addition to understanding the outcomes of your outreach program, it is important to understand and assess the input: how well did you carry out your plans and how effective were the partners you engaged? These data will inform not only your outcomes, but help you critically analyze the effectiveness of tactics you employed to expand summer meals participation.

Tool Three: Documenting Your Outreach Efforts

As discussed throughout the toolkit, documenting precisely how your marketing and outreach was carried out and the places where outreach was targeted can make evaluating your efforts much easier. These data will help determine if increases in summer meals participation correlate to the times and locations of your outreach.

Tool 3: Prototype Outreach Material Tracking Template With Hypothetical Data: This chart can provide a framework for tracking your efforts. The examples give you an idea of how these kinds of data can be most effectively collected and displayed.

Tool Four: Assessing Partnerships

Partners are critical to expanding access to summer meals. Many organizations across the country have created, or participate in, summer meals working groups or work with a network of partners on this issue more informally. The following tips can help you develop a systematic way to document and assess partnership activities.

Assessments of Efforts to Enhance Partnerships:

As you evaluate your partnerships, it is important to keep track of what you have done to build them and what has come out of your relationships with local groups. As you engage in the below activities, keep a record of the conversations you have, what you have learned and how your efforts change or grow as a result.

  • Meet with local government officials, as well as site sponsors, on a regular basis to get their buy-in for your goals and address any potential issues. It is valuable to review what they want to accomplish, what sorts of outreach they have tried in the past and what they think would be effective — as well as to discuss the kinds of data that would be useful in determining how effective their efforts have been.
  • Bring nonprofit groups and other partners together that have historically worked on free summer meals but who may not have worked together in the past. Schedule regular one-on-ones with key leaders to learn their perspectives in order to inform advocacy to increase participation on free summer meals and to get their input (as well as cooperation in conducting the evaluation).
  • Schedule periodic calls or meetings between advocates, nonprofit groups and government agencies. This will allow everyone to be kept up to speed as to how the outreach is progressing, see what areas require more outreach and jointly participate in assessment activities.
  • Reach out broadly to community leaders to ask about barriers to greater participation in summer food programs, the kinds of steps that are most likely to be effective in overcoming them and the roles that they might be playing in these efforts. Incorporate feedback into your campaign and always give credit to the people or organization that came up with the ideas. Funding might allow organizations to implement well thought-out outreach plans that they had been hoping to implement for years. You can work with people to make some of these plans become a reality, thus helping them accomplish goals that they had already.

Tool 4: Prototype Survey for Nonprofit Partners

One can get the best feedback on partnerships by talking with partners in person or on the telephone if in-person contacts are not feasible. If the number of partners is too large to accomplish this within existing time constraints, electronic approaches such as SurveyMonkey can be utilized.

Time: Around 30 minutes.

Questions to Ask Nonprofit Partners at the Beginning of the Summer

  1. What do you hope to do this summer that will be different from last summer?
  2. How long have you been working on the summer food program in this geographic area?
  3. Which other nonprofits have you worked with on the summer food program? How was your relationship?
  4. Have you ever conducted any evaluations of your summer food program?
  5. How does your organization’s work mesh with that done by other organizations on summer food programs?
  6. What else would you like to share with us about your experiences with summer food programs?

Questions to Ask Nonprofit Partners at the End of the Summer

  1. Did you think this summer was different than last summer? If yes, how so?
  2. What was the most important resource that summer meals expansion partners brought to the table?
  3. What would you like to do differently next year?
  4. What do you think most contributed to the increase in summer food program participation (or do you think it has not increased appreciably)?