Photo courtesy of National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative

By National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative

As part of the National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative, the National Farm to School Network has been working with a group of farm to institution organizations across the U.S. to increase the measurement and evaluation of Farm to Institution programming.  

In 2019, the Collaborative set out to identify key farm impact metrics that can be used by farm to institution practitioners across the country. Funded by USDA AMS, the project resulted in a set of six metrics, and an accompanying set of tools and resources, to help practitioners track the impact of their local purchasing.
The final set of metrics include:

  • Business type: Type and Location of Business that produced the FINAL PRODUCT  
  • Ownership: Is the business woman or minority-owned?
  • Farm impact: Percentage of the item that consisted of ingredients sourced from farm(s) within the local region
  • Farm identity: Does the item contain any local farm sourced ingredients that are identity-preserved (can be traced back to the original farm)?
  • Product type: What is the food category?
  • Market Channel: How was the item purchased?  

These metrics are meant to be used as an integrated suite that can assess the economic impact of farm to institution purchasing on food and farm-related businesses. Shared metrics allow farm to institution practitioners to track progress and impact, provide for consistency and transparency in reporting, support strategic development of regional value chains, and create learning across sectors. Standardized metrics can also reduce costs for distributors in tracking them, making it more likely they will do so.

These metrics are particularly important to the farm to school sector as they create opportunity to connect schools to the broader farm to institution movement, motivate and encourage districts to set benchmarks and goals around local purchasing, and will provide important data to influence future local foods and farm to school supportive policy.

Learn more about the National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative, the farm impact metrics, and how you can get involved here. Interested in applying the metrics to your institution's tracking of local food purchases? Contact Lacy Stephens, NFSN Senior Program Manager, at to learn more!