Image of the Vikings Table food truck; Image credit: The Minnesota Vikings Foundation

Hi! I’m Nick Stilp, a Senior Consultant at The Improve Group. I was thrilled to lead our work with the Minnesota Vikings Foundation to evaluate Vikings Table, a food truck program with the mission of serving healthy meals and nutrition education to youth across the greater Twin Cities area.

We were so grateful to see our partnership featured in MVF’s newly released 2021 Impact Report, which highlights where Vikings Table is succeeding and opportunities to strengthen programming. As MVF Executive Director Brett Taber shares in a letter to the community:

“This past year, we prioritized analyzing Vikings Table programming to evaluate how we can best serve the youth in our community with healthy meals and nutrition education. With the help of expert evaluators, we learned we are succeeding in providing healthy meals in areas of need and are reducing the burdens faced by our partner nonprofit organizations. However, opportunities exist for us to expand our nutritional education components and meal offerings. We are excited to lean into these opportunities in 2022 with your support.”

Because this was the first time MVF had explicitly explored evaluation, we focused on making the experience easy and approachable. We first partnered with MVF to develop a logic model based on the Foundation’s outcome goals and strategies for addressing the issue of childhood hunger in the Twin Cities area. We then collaboratively designed an evaluation with a focus on equity to uncover community-driven solutions from Vikings Table’s nonprofit partners and the youth and families who eat and learn at the food truck. Along the way, we worked with MVF staff to build their evaluation capacity through development and training to help lay the foundation for long-term measurement of Vikings Table. 

Through interviews with nonprofit partners, surveys of youth and families, and a short participatory questionnaire for youth at Vikings Table Events, we learned:

  • Vikings Table provides healthy meals where they are needed, focusing on youth and families who experience food insecurity and live in communities impacted by poverty. Partners and youth shared ideas for improving meal options, including healthy snack alternatives, and continuing to expand culturally specific meal offerings.
  • Youth have fun and engaging experiences interacting with nutrition education materials inside the Vikings food truck and are more willing to try different types of healthy meals as a result. Nonprofit partners shared ideas for expanding and deepening the nutritional education components of Vikings Table programming (for example, offering cooking classes).
  • Nonprofit partners experience amplified impacts through increased financial and staff capacity, strengthened relationships, and enhanced marketing opportunities. Partners hope to continue to strengthen and expand their partnerships with Vikings Table, as well as help inform future programming.   

At IG, we are always excited to catch up with a client after some time has passed to learn how a project continues to influence their work. We were so happy to learn that the evaluation process helped strengthen relationships with MVF’s nonprofit partners—and that the Foundation used feedback to make tangible program improvements like launching the Smart Energy Snack Program as a solution to supplement meals. We were also excited to learn MVF is committed to continue measuring and monitoring the impact of Vikings Table using the logic model we created as a roadmap for the future.

If your organization wants to learn more about its programming but isn’t sure where to start, give us a shout! We’re more than happy to talk through ideas and help you set priorities.