Over the past four and a half years, the Northside Fresh coalition of organizations and individuals has worked to combat the lack of healthy food access in North Minneapolis, with the assistance of a five-year funding contract from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. The purpose of this report is to highlight and analyze the key events and characteristics that have contributed or hindered the effectiveness of Northside Fresh. An evaluative case study details the coalition’s history and then uses analysis based on the literature, document review, survey data and interviews to identify lessons learned and opportunities for the future. To better
conceptualize these data, we created a framework, based on pre-existing research on interorganizational relationships, network governance, and collaborative advantage to examine the effectiveness of the coalition. We propose that there are three factors that support efficacy: alignment of partners’ motivations and visions, the actual contributions of the partners, and the extent of the networks that exist within the coalition. We then submit that these three factors are mediated by the context in which the coalition operates to further encourage or inhibit efficacy.
We concluded that the motivations and visions were adequately aligned although the
partners differed in their views of the coalition’s function. Member contributions to the coalition were consistent with the 5P model used by the coalition. Networks of individuals and organizations, strengthened through coalition participation, also contributed to coalition effectiveness. Some aspects of the context posed challenges, however. These include a culture of mistrust with funding agencies as well as a culture of competitiveness that affects the way in which agencies and people work together on the Northside. Within the coalition there has been
significant staff turnover, confusion over roles and responsibilities, and concern regarding transparency. In addition, we discovered that conflict over the value of different kinds of expertise and over the ownership of coalition work detracted from Northside Fresh’s ability to achieve its goals. We propose strategies for turning these issues into opportunities by discussing differences openly, cross-training each other to build everyone’s capacity, and increasing the participation of community members and organizations within Northside Fresh.
Professional paper for the fulfillment of the Master of Public Policy
Caulum, Libby; Outar, Priya; Shardlow, Josie; Thomas-Tielke, Kate; Tulpule, Girija.
Northside Fresh: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Food Access Coalition.
Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
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