Monitor and Evaluate
Monitoring and evaluation are important to achieve your desired results. Monitoring uses periodic data collection, such as audits, to track implementation progress so that you will know whether you are on track to achieve your goals. Evaluation determines the effectiveness of your program or initiative to provide an understanding for why your program may or may not be working.
When monitoring and evaluation are applied to implementation of food service guidelines, you will want to consider the long-term goals of your food service guidelines initiative (such as increased sales of healthy foods). When planning, give thought to what is feasible for you to undertake in terms of cost, availability of personnel to conduct the audits, and time.
Other decisions should be based on:
- Types of data you can obtain (for example, point-of-sale, procurement, production, and menu data).
- Appropriateness of data type for the settings where your food service guidelines are being implemented (that is, places where foods are sold, served, or given away).
- Reach and populations impacted.
- Co-benefits of food service guidelines implementation (such as support of local farms, job growth, and cost-savings due to waste reduction).
As you monitor and evaluate your food service guidelines, remember to work with your evaluator to answer questions that are also of interest to leaders, champions, partners, vendors, consumers, and others affected by your food service guidelines initiative. Representatives of these groups may be a part of your food service guidelines team and can advise you accordingly. If not on your team, you can gain their input in other ways, such as holding public meetings or conducting interviews with key individuals.
CDC’s A Framework for Program Evaluation is a tool designed to guide public health professionals in evaluation of their programs. It includes steps to conducting your evaluation and standards for assessing quality of your evaluation.