258293 Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre: A peer-facilitated healthy cooking class as part of a food systems approach to increase healthy food access

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 4:50 PM - 5:10 PM

Joy Casnovsky, BA , The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre, Sustainable Food Center, Austin, TX
Alexandra Evans, PhD , Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus, Austin, TX
Rose Jennings, MPH , Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, UT School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus, Austin, TX
Introduction: With 65% of Texans overweight or obese, the number of cases of diabetes and heart disease are skyrocketing among Latino families. The purpose of this presentation is to describe the effects of The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre™ (THK), a unique community-based program targeting low-income ethnically-diverse families in Texas.

Methodology: The interactive six-week program targets dietary change through teaching adult family members how to cook with and shop for healthy and culturally appropriate food. Classes are led by trained peer facilitators and are taught in Spanish or English. The Program is part of a larger, food systems approach to healthy eating and food access. After each class, participants receive a free bag of groceries to prepare the demonstrated recipe at home. Self-report surveys were administered at baseline and upon completion of the program. Differences between pre and post test data were analyzed using paired t-tests.

Results: 59 individuals completed both pre and post surveys (93% female, 89% Spanish speaking, 77% low-income). At post-test, 68.8% of of participants reported preparing meals with fruits and vegetables for their family vs. 42.6% reporting at baseline. Results indicated positive trends in eating behaviors, including a decrease in consumption of flour tortillas (30.8%, p=.29), pizza (30.2%, p=.23), sweets (32.8%, p=.017), and regular sodas (34.5%, p=.60). 32.7% of participants reported modeling eating fresh fruits and vegetables more frequently than at baseline.

Discussion: Results indicate that THK was effective in changing diet-related behaviors of Latino families as part of a systems-wide initiative in low-income communities.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the components of a culturally-appropriate nutrition intervention program for at-risk families; 2. Identify the unique strengths of The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre™ program; and 3. Discuss how the Program's role in a larger community-based food-system approach increases access to affordable, nutritious food.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Community Health Promoters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Director of Sustainable Food Center's The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre Program. I oversee the evaluation of the Program.
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.