We have extensive experience conducting evaluation studies of urban food and nutrition programs to assess their effectiveness in improving food access, promoting public health, and supporting community development. Gaining the insight of our community partners in these studies gives Institute staff an overview of the intersection of these programs and food policy as it plays out across New York City, and helps us to recommend policy changes to support these goals.
The Institute’s evaluation efforts seek to document the implementation of programs over time and across places, and to assess their impact on local food environments and the food-related knowledge and behavior of residents served by the programs. We also identify facilitators and barriers to program implementation and impact, and assess the feasibility and potential for replicating particular approaches in other communities.
Grounded in the social ecological theory, the Institute’s evaluation studies describe and analyze the factors that influence community well-being at four distinct levels: individuals and families; community-based organizations; partnerships among local and citywide organizations; and geographic communities. In addition, evaluators examine the role of contextual factors such as municipal food and economic development policies, the prior history of neighborhood organizing and community capacity building, and other relevant factors identified in the course of the investigation. Current partners in our evaluation studies include LISC-NYC, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, United Neighbored Houses and the New York City Housing Authority.