Survey Finds USDA Nutrition Education Program Improves Eating Habits of Low-Income Children

CookShop, a Program of the Food Bank For New York City, Prompts Healthy Food Choices at a Time When 43 Percent of NYC Public Elementary School Children Are Overweight/Obese, Teachers Say

Jun 02, 2010, 05:55 ET from Food Bank For New York City

NEW YORK, June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Hundreds of New York City public elementary school teachers reported in a survey that their students are making healthier food choices because of CookShop, a nutrition education program of the Food Bank For New York City that is funded and supported by the USDA. This finding is significant at a time when 43 percent of the city's elementary school children are overweight or obese.

"Education is the best path out of poverty, but when children are poorly nourished, they don't perform as well in school. The ill effects are long-term and far-reaching," said Lucy Cabrera, Ph.D., the Food Bank's President and CEO. "CookShop improves their food choices and inspires families to come together around the kitchen table for healthy, affordable meals."

A survey of the more than 700 NYC teachers who implemented CookShop last year found:

  • 97% report that their students are more likely to try new healthy food, and have an improved knowledge of nutrition
  • 96% report that their students are interested in healthier eating as a result of CookShop
  • 92% report that their students make healthier food choices as a result of CookShop

First Lady Michelle Obama has put ending childhood obesity at the top of the national agenda, calling the epidemic one of the greatest threats to Americans' health and the national economy. Recently, she joined the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity in unveiling a plan for solving childhood obesity in a generation. The report underscored the need for nutrition education.

"Nutrition education is one of the best tools we have in the fight against obesity because it gives children and families the practical knowledge to make healthy choices throughout their lives," Dr. Cabrera said.

CookShop is fully funded by SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Education Program-Education), a USDA program to provide nutrition education to food-stamp-eligible families. CookShop fosters an understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of nutritious foods through hands-on cooking and food exploration workshops for NYC public school children, adults and teens, reaching more than 15,000 participants citywide this year. Every participating teacher is provided with the training, curriculum materials, food and equipment needed to implement the program successfully.

This year, Food Bank also piloted a new curriculum for CookShop for Adults, which offers workshops for parents/caregivers in public schools participating in CookShop Classroom. CookShop for Adults complements the student curriculum, teaching simple recipes using fresh, inexpensive foods and empowering adults to make healthy food choices for themselves and their families. CookShop for Adults participants reported in focus groups that workshops:

  • Gave them the knowledge and skills to prepare new healthy plant-based recipes.
  • Motivated them to eat more vegetables and other plant-based food.
  • Helped them to share new healthy recipes with their children, family and friends.
  • Inspired them to think more about their health and eating habits.

The Food Bank also offers CookShop programming for after-school settings, and CookShop for Teens (also called EATWISE), a peer nutrition education program for high school students. A complementary social marketing campaign, "Change One Thing," is expected to reach 100,000 low-income youth this summer and fall.

About the Food Bank For New York City

Food Bank For New York City recognizes 27 years as the city's major hunger-relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs. As the city's hub for integrated food poverty assistance, the Food Bank tackles hunger on three fronts — emergency food distribution, income support and nutrition education — all strategically guided by its research. Through its network of approximately 1,000 food assistance programs citywide, the Food Bank helps provide 300,000 free meals a day for New Yorkers in need. The Food Bank's hands-on nutrition education program in the public schools reaches thousands of children, teens and adults. Income support services including food stamps, free tax assistance for the working poor and the Earned Income Tax Credit put millions of dollars back in the pockets of low-income New Yorkers, helping them to achieve greater dignity and independence. Every dollar donated to the Food Bank helps provide five meals to New Yorkers in need. Learn how you can help at foodbanknyc.org.

SOURCE Food Bank For New York City



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