Stories as indicators: Lessons learned using the Most Significant Change method to evaluate food systems work in Michigan
Food systems initiatives regularly use stories as a communication tool to showcase and gain attention for their work. Yet few of these efforts use systematic ways to collect and analyze stories. Rooted in our experience documenting the work surrounding the Michigan Good Food Charter, we suggest that a variety of efforts that aim to transform food systems could benefit from applying the Most Significant Change (MSC) technique, an evaluation tool that uses stories in a more rigorous way to identify emerging outcomes and enhance organizational learning. Particularly with the modifications we introduce, the MSC approach can be adapted to situations where program staff or participants have limited time, resources, or capacity, offering stakeholders a way to build a shared vision of a program and, over time, a clearer sense of the direction that a food systems project has and where it should be headed.
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