Jarpe-Ratner, E.; Folkens, S.; Sharma, S.; Daro, D.; Edens, N.K.
Objective Evaluate the effect of a community-based, experiential cooking and nutrition education program on consumption of fruits and vegetables and associated intermediate outcomes in students from low-income families. Design Quasi-experimental program evaluation by pre–post survey of participating students and their parents. Setting Underserved elementary and middle schools in Chicago. Participants Students (n = 271; 65% girls, 44% Hispanic, 32% African American; 94% eligible for free/reduced price lunch) in grades 3–8 selected by school staff to participate by variable inclusion criteria. 59% of students who applied returned both pre- and post-surveys. Intervention(s) Ten-week (2 h/wk) chef-instructor–led program held in cafeteria kitchens after school. Main Outcome Measure(s) Changes in student nutrition knowledge, cooking self-efficacy, fruit and vegetable liking and consumption, and communication to family about healthy eating. Analysis Changes from beginning to end of program were analyzed with paired t test. Results were considered significant at P < .05. Results Increased nutrition knowledge score from 0.6 to 0.8, cooking self-efficacy score from 3.2 to 3.6, and vegetable consumption score from 2.2 to 2.4 (all P < .05). Increased score for communication about healthy eating (4.1 to 4.4; P < .05) 6 months after the end of the course. Conclusions and Implications Experiential cooking and nutrition education programs led by chef-instructors may be effective ways to improve nutrition in low-income communities. © 2016 The Authors