Assess and set goals

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Establish a baseline 

Your organization likely already tracks its food data, and staff managing those systems can share existing food purchase information as well as any other food-related data points you wish to collect. Review available data for a discrete period (e.g., the previous financial quarter). Consider what data is and is not captured, and discuss with staff managing data systems whether these systems might capture needed criteria and how that data would have to be supplied.

For food purchasing data, collaborate with food service and procurement staff to request product data not currently tracked by internal systems from suppliers. Describe the types of purchase information needed (e.g., third-party certifications, production location) and requested delivery format (e.g., Excel) and deadlines (e.g., monthly or quarterly).

Retroactive baseline data: Do not gather baseline data retroactively – this can be difficult, time-intensive, and inaccurate. Instead, develop a forward-looking baseline data collection process, starting with current orders, based on your review of what data is available and can easily be provided.

Build the framework for a baseline, and review it for completeness. What information is still missing? What feedback has the team received from internal and external stakeholders, including suppliers, about the ease of providing this information? This can be used to shape goals, milestones, and ongoing tracking expectations.

Set priorities and milestones toward the goal

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely (SMART) purchasing goals each year is an important step in building a successful food program. Use your baseline or assessment to develop goals specific to your hospital’s priorities.

Focus on the following:

  • Set targets and milestones that are able to be tracked using available data.
  • Prioritize some opportunities that address needs articulated by stakeholders.

For purchasing-specific goals, Practice Greenhealth has a sustainable procurement priority setting tool to help narrow down priorities by answering questions about regulatory, environmental, health, and operational considerations.

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