205010 Connecticut Healthy Eating Curricula Approaches to Hands-On Food Education in K-3 Classrooms

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lynn Fredericks , FamilyCook Productions, New York, NY
Antonia Demas, PhD , Food Studies Institute, Trumansburg, NY
Cindy Crusto, PhD , The Consultation Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
Marie G. Russell, MS , Community Health Center, Inc., Middletown, CT
Mario H. Garcia, MSc, MPH , Public Health Initiatives, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Health, Hartford, CT
Erin Murphy, BS , Community Health Center, Inc., Middletown, CT
Julie Julie Cranick, BS , Community Health Center, Inc., Middletown, CT
Mary Farnsworth , Community Health Center, Inc., Middletown, CT
Studies have suggested that hands-on cooking, as part of nutrition education for children, is an effective means to gain their acceptance of new and healthy food. Such education combined with school nutrition policies and wellness councils can be particularly effective. The Connecticut State Department of Public Health selected two healthy eating curricula providers, Food Studies Institute and FamilyCook Productions, to test in 4 rural and 4 urban schools in a grant awarded to Community Health Center, Inc. for the 2008-09 school year. The curricula were chosen for their proven replication track record and for addressing the social and emotional needs of young children. Ten hands-on lessons in both curricula were taught over the school year in 4 rural and 4 urban K-3 classrooms. Four comparison classrooms were also identified for the study. The Consultation Center, Yale University School of Medicine conducted an evaluation that involves both common measures as well as those specific to the two curricula, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. A process evaluation was also conducted to identify the barriers to such education in school settings.

Preliminary data demonstrate considerable engagement by children and parents to take advantage of in-school support for healthy eating by trying more new and healthy foods and cooking more at home, particularly in the rural schools. Differences in classroom teacher capacity to engage parent volunteers and to finding flexibility within the school day to conduct cooking, have also been captured. This test has valuable implications for other jurisdictions beyond Connecticut. Final results in June will provide recommendations for best configuration for such curricula to succeed in classroom settings.

Learning Objectives:
1) Evaluate the feasibility of implementing hands-on, healthy eating curriculum in K-3 classrooms. 2) Identify the strengths and weaknesses of implementing a hands-on approach to nutrition education in public schools. 3) Formulate the key strategies in K-3 nutrition education that show the most efficacy based on multiple measures.

Keywords: School-Based Programs, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My organization has been engaged in the work presented for 13 years, has presented at numerous APHA panels, written a book on the topic, and will present original work
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.