Measuring Impact

Results from 2013Assessments:

Learning Outcomes:

Overall, FoodWorks interns reported significant increases in knowledge of local food and sustainable development; For the 19 student learning objectives about food systems,  the overall prior level of knowledge rating (on a 5-point scale) was 2.81; the average as a result of the internship rating increased to 4.15

Significant differences pre- and post- regarding understanding of food related critical issues and policy development. The survey items with the greatest difference pre/post among interns at both sites were:

  • “understand the tensions between short-term stop gaps (e.g., food banks) and long-term food justice solutions (e.g., education, affordability and accessibility of healthy food)” (2.77 to 4.31 VT and 1.50 to 4.50 KY) and
  • “view local food businesses and infrastructure as a way to understand the relationship to the local economic development model” (2.46 to 4.23 VT and 2.00 to 4.00 KY).

Foodworks interns also reported increased capacities on a variety of personal and professional skill development dimensions.

  • The skills that interns cited as the best developed due to participation in the FoodWorks program were “understanding my own strengths and weaknesses, and those of my co-workers” (4.21, on a 5-point scale) and “an ability to build and sustain working relationships” (4.16).

FoodWorks participants were able to make a difference at their internships:

  • All employers indicated they were very satisfied with their intern and how they completed their work assignments.
  • All employers reported that the intern’s contributions to their organization were extremely significant.
  • All intern(s) engaged in local food opportunities outside of assigned work responsibilities

Some Employer comments:

“The fact that this cohort of interns was strategically placed throughout the VT food system leadership community was a big deal. I think this fact should be highlighted further….The combination of supporting key initiatives that are part of a broader statewide food systems strategy and cultivating next-generation leadership is an important message that I believe could be shared more widely.” – Eric DeLuca, Mad River Food Hub

“The support that Middlebury offers is extremely valuable to the Louisville community, for a non-profit it crucial, it is the only way they can participate and take advantage of the college students and this fresh perspective and energy. Zac (who worked at Grasshoppers Distribution) was able to provide a couple of different advantages, he built a wholesale wing and they were able to increase their wholesale market by 30 %, increase their sales by 20%. That is a lasting impact. He built connections with local chefs that didn’t exist before. It was because of a FoodWorks intern they were able to accomplish these projects without draining their resources.” – Ann Curtis, on behalf of Lynn Greene, Grasshoppers Distribution

“One of the most rewarding and pleasurable events in my career… From their day to day interactions with my staff to their outstanding research, both of our interns were professional and outstanding.” – Lynne Coale, Superintendent, Hannaford Career Center

“I think it was amazing that an intern at VAAFM can go through the Waterbury farmers market with Governor Shumlin, can make a presentation about his stakeholder survey results to the Vermont Community Foundation funders, can sit in a room with Secretary Chuck Ross and present this concept of where businesses and food systems work is around stage of development scale and market access. Those are things that people spend years in graduate school developing as expertise, and years of their career to be able to do, that you have been able to do in a manner of weeks.” – Abbey Willard, Local Foods Administrator, Vermont Agency for Agriculture, Food and Markets

“Jen was able to take on many tasks that others did not have time to do. She assisted with direct service work by leading educational programs on the farm and she also served in a capacity building role. She worked very independently, requiring very little instruction. She truly was a blessing to this organization and her contributions will not be forgotten!” – Food Literacy Project, Louisville


Some quotes from participants about their learning and the value of the 5th day activities:

“The 5th days take the place that you know–Middlebury College–and incorporate it into a larger geography. They help to expand our understanding of food beyond the hyper-local scale we know from the farmer’s market and the Co-Op and illuminate the regional and state-wide realities of Vermont’s food system.”

“The chance to actually go behind closed doors at food hubs, farms, the Ag Agency, etc. is what I really appreciated most about the fifth day experience. ..Without getting to see, touch, and otherwise interact with the people and places described in Rebuilding the Foodshed, the whole curriculum would lack depth and meaning.”

“The 5th days lend real world context to more abstract concepts…”

“The 5th days are a wonderful addition to the internships.. It is amazing to see the diversity of work that is happening and critical to an overall understanding of what the food movement may be, can be, is, strives to be…”.

“5th days are also a chance to discover or bring up controversial topics and issues and to parse them out among your peers as well as with experts.”

“It’s also fun to get together with the FoodWorks group, since you’re normally doing separate internships, and talk about these issues. Everyone brings a different perspective based on what they are engaged in, which makes for really interesting discussions.”

“The 5th day curriculum allows FoodWorks participants to experience the whole range of what goes into a “food system”. Chances are that the internship will cover one element of the local food system, but in order to fully understand the what a food system is you have to see and experience all the pieces. The fifth day curriculum facilitates this exploration and discussion.”


Results from the 2012 FoodWorks Pilot:

Students were overwhelmingly positive in their assessment of FoodWorks, the opportunities afforded them and skills developed, and the overall quality of the program.  All students indicated they would recommend FoodWorks to their peers.  Students also reported that the 5th Day was very significant or critical to the quality of their learning experience in Louisville.  Further, students demonstrated learning on each of the 22 targeted educational objectives regarding food systems, within the areas of sustainable agriculture; food systems; community and economic development; nutrition and health; and other topics, such as food security and justice, policy, and culture and traditions.

Maren Granstrom ’13: “It was a wonderful nine weeks. I learned more than I could have imagined, and not only about how a city’s food economy works, but about the importance of connections, networks, and also that just a few dedicated people can accomplish a lot. I met people whose jobs were to figure out how to help farmers sell more produce, and strategize with big institutions about how to buy local food within their budget. Through my job at Creation Gardens, I got to visit farms, restaurants, and even a produce auction, to talk to the owners and managers and see all aspects of the farm-to-table system.”

Nina Cameron, ’12 (who found a job through her internship and is still in Louisville!): “The combination of interning with a local organization and spending one day per week learning about the local food economy from the ground up was an invaluable experience and one that gave me a truly in-depth understanding of local food systems.

I particularly enjoyed meeting the many diverse community members involved in the local food movement, through my work at Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness.  Working for the city government on developing an urban agriculture summer program for high school students gave me the incredible opportunity to connect people and organizations around a common goal.  It was a wonderful feeling to end the summer knowing that I had helped to create a platform for collaboration between the government, the school system, and local non-profits–one that would have lasting effects beyond my summer’s work.”

Davis Woolworth, ’15: “As food sustainability issues become more and more relevant on a greater scale, I cannot overstate how crucial it is that I was able to participate in this incredibly well designed and executed program at an early juncture in both the movement and my own college career. Having studied and lived a model local food system, it is a pleasure to discuss and engage with others about the benefits, practicably, and all the other myriad issues that surround the concept of local food.

Working at The Root Cellar, I gained an incredible appreciation for the hard work that goes into small business. Both the day-to-day and long-term aspects of running such a business were not merely studied as we might in the classroom but genuinely experienced by myself under the directing of my boss, Ron Smith, who took me on as an intern in the fullest sense.”