Stories as indicators: Lessons learned using the Most Significant Change method to evaluate food systems work in Michigan

Keywords: Most Significant Change, Food Systems, Michigan, Evaluation, Equity

Abstract

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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Author Biographies

Lilly Fink Shapiro, University of Michigan

Program Manager, Sustainable Food Systems Initiative, School for Environment and Sustainability

Lesli Hoey, University of Michigan

Associate Professor, Urban and Regional Planning Program

Kathryn Colasanti, University of Michigan

Evaluation Associate, Program Evaluation Group, School of Social Work

Published
2021-03-19
How to Cite
Fink Shapiro, L., Hoey, L., & Colasanti, K. (2021). Stories as indicators: Lessons learned using the Most Significant Change method to evaluate food systems work in Michigan. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 10(2), 399–411. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2021.102.025