Social value of a Canadian urban food bank garden
Keywords:Social Return on Investment, Food Bank, Urban Agriculture, Garden, Social Value
The Garden Patch—an urban agriculture program of the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre (SFBLC)—relies on corporate and individual donations in a time of growing austerity. The SFBLC does an excellent job of communicating programs to donors, but they had not previously completed a return-on-investment analysis. A social return on investment evaluation study for the 2018 growing season provided guidance on the most significant impact of the organization’s strategic objectives and provided an additional tool to communicate the program’s value to donors and the community. This work indicates the monetary value of social benefits gained from the investments made to the SFBLC for its urban agriculture program. Data sources included harvest data, volunteer logs, budget, and workshop attendance; key informant interviews with community members, volunteers, and staff; and community-based telephone and online surveys. It also included in-person surveys with community members accessing food hampers. With feedback from stakeholders, we measured the most valued program outcomes. The inputs and resources to run the Garden Patch were valued at CA$96,474 in 2018. The outputs were vegetables for food hampers, gardening skills, physical and psychological health, and work and educational experiences. Outcomes were valued using financial proxies. For each outcome, the deadweight, attribution, and displacement were considered and discounted to calculate the impact value of $155,419. The final calculation is expressed as a ratio of present value divided by the value of inputs. We conservatively estimate a $1.61 of social value created for every dollar invested in the Garden Patch. We also analyze this method in the context of the current societal neoliberal paradigm, recognizing that there is much work to be done to advance food security and social justice.
 All currencies in this paper are in Canadian dollars.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Wanda Martin, Anh Pham, Lindsey Wagner, Adrian Werner
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