Online Program

Evaluating the effectiveness of cooking classes tailored to low-income individuals

Monday, November 4, 2013

Alexsandra Apostolico, Center for School and Community-Based Research and Education (NJ Safe Schools Program), Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Description: Evaluation of the “Let's Cook!” cooking class sought to determine the productiveness of a cooking class geared towards low income residents. Pre and post surveys were developed and administered to participants. Methods: Participants (n=25) were asked to fill out a pre survey in order to gage their awareness of important nutritional information; at the conclusion of the program, participants filled out a post survey. Areas of weakness were presented to the director of Elijah's Promise in the form of recommendations going forward. Lessons Learned: Respondents of surveys indicated an increased awareness of topics relating to nutrition. Topics of improvement included an increased awareness of buying produce in season (17% increase), purchasing alternatives with less sugar (24% increase), fat (59% increase), and sodium (33% increase) and an improved comfort level in cutting up a whole chicken, P value=.034. Recommendations: Based on the findings that "Let's Cook!" provides an outlet for residents to learn how to cook healthy on a budget, Elijah's promise should continue with the use of tailored cooking classes. Although the evaluation is limited by the case study aspect of the study, including a small sample size, lack of a comparison group, and cannot be generalized beyond Elijah's Promise, the study can inform future evaluations of similar projects. It is recommended that further research with larger and diverse samples be conducted. Positive findings support future work. Moreover, the project supports broader literature which indicates that in order to create a lifestyle change, curriculum and teaching must be comprehensive.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the effectiveness of a cooking class focused on preparing nutritious meals on a budget offered to low-income residents of urban areas where access to fresh, healthy food is lacking. Assess particular areas of challenges in cooking class by observation and comparison of pre and post survey results, and make recommendations to executive director of Elijah’s Promise.

Keyword(s): Nutrition, Health Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a senior at Rutgers University; obtaining my BS in public health with a concentration in Biology. I am also a 5 year BS/MPH student at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and have begun graduate level coursework towards my MPH with a concentration in epidemiology. I have completed relevant coursework relating to program evaluation including a Research Methods course, Statistics, Biostatistics, and a Health Systems and Policy Course.
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.