Food adventures workshop: development of a pilot summer nutrition education/cooking class program for grade school students

The purpose of this project was to develop a summer nutrition education/cooking class program for elementary students, fourth through sixth grades, ages 9-11 years old. The program ran from July 2nd to August 3rd, 2007, at California State University Northridge (CSUN). Two succeeding classes followed the pilot program in the next two summers (2008 and 2009). The main objective of the project was to create a five-week curriculum with the intention of introducing nutritional and food science concepts through cooking. Twenty students were enrolled and participated in the class. In addition to the curriculum manual, a follow-up focus group study was conducted four years after the inception of the pilot class. The goal of this study was to follow up on a segment of the students who participated in the class(es) to determine the influence of the class(es) on their eating habits and attitudes in the longer term. Pre- and post-assessment surveys distributed to the students during the course of the pilot program showed some positive changes in their attitude and knowledge about food and nutrition. Subjective feedback from the students and parents indicated that the students enjoyed the activities and learned a lot about eating and cooking healthy foods. The follow-up interview with the focus group and additional feedback from their parents revealed a continued practice of healthy eating and cooking new foods at home. The pre/post-assessment surveys and the follow-up focus group study findings showed the positive impact such a program has in children and in battling the childhood obesity problem.