Taking the first steps on an evaluation journey

Storyteller:

Rasheeda Qureshi
Executive Director, Seva Food Bank
Storyteller's Picture

The Seva Food Bank provides safe, nutritious and culturally-appropriate food to low-income families living in seven postal codes across Mississauga. They also coordinate a wide range of programs that help their clients address the causes and consequences of hunger and poverty.

The notion of a systematized assessment of their programs and services – in other words, a formal evaluation – was new for Executive Director, Rasheeda Qureshi, and her six-member staff team.

Her interest in how evaluation could support and improve their services was sparked by attendance at PREP’s workshops on using story in evaluation and linking program design and evaluation.

Seva was well positioned with a strong strategic plan along with key performance indicators and objectives that cascade into operational goals that are specific to the staff roles within the organization who are designated to ensure they are achieved.

They also had consistent data collection systems in place to capture their outputs like the number of clients and families who access their food bank and participate in their programs.

Seva had a limited time-frame in which to access PREP’s individualized support and guidance on how to begin setting up a plan for evaluation so it was recommended that developing an evaluation framework for an existing program would help to lay the groundwork towards an overall plan for evaluation they could develop in the future. Rasheeda chose their client referral program and so indicators were co-developed that align with their strategic objectives. Rasheeda chose this program as she sees the potential to strengthen how they connect their clients with other community supports.

“Our focus is on clients and our strength is food – we are conscious of what we do and don’t do. The client navigator program is important because it helps to build bridges to other services our clients need, as food is usually a symptom of an array of challenges.”

Now, they’re looking to apply for funding to deliver new programs and Rasheeda plans to design her evaluation up front so it supports the desired program outcomes. She is also interested in continuing to build the evaluation capacity of her staff team.

“What I realize after working with PREP is that we are at the beginning of this process. We know more than we did when we started. Evaluation will be important so we have data to show about our impact. I see us using it to tell stories to our funders and donors – to share how we’re making a difference.”