FoodCorps is devoted to understanding the impact our activities are having on people, places, and systems. We aim to produce a measurably healthier school food environment and serve as a resource to researchers across the school food field.
“It takes more than books for children to learn. And FoodCorps teaches kids to love real food so they eat it when I put it on the tray.”
—Betti Wiggins, Executive Director of the Office of Food Services at Detroit Public Schools
What We Measure
Changes in attitudes: New in the 2015-2016 school year, we are measuring how participating in food- and garden-based education changes kids’ preferences for and exposure to vegetables. Each of our service members uses a pre/post Vegetable Preference Survey to capture data from students grades two and up around the degree to which they like specific vegetables as well as whether they have tried each item. We measure this indicator because food preference is the most studied indicator of consumption and has proven to be the strongest indicator of fruit and vegetable consumption in children (Heim et al., 2009). Increased preference is a valuable outcome because, while diets rich in fruit and vegetables are associated with better health status (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005), fewer than 10% of children meet MyPyramid recommendations for these foods (Guenther et al., 2006). Changing kids’ attitudes toward healthy foods is an important precursor to adopting lifelong healthy behaviors.
Changes in school food environments: Through the FoodCorps Landscape Assessment, we measure changes happening across each of our participating schools that help make them healthier places to learn, work, and play. Since schools are where kids spend the majority of their day, it’s critical that the surrounding environment supports them in making healthy decisions and developing healthy habits. In the last program year, 89% of our schools achieved improvements in creating a healthier environment for their students. In particular, 71% of schools made better use of their school garden, including integrating the garden into existing curriculum, creating and updating garden plans and goals, and involving more school staff in using and maintaining the garden.
Changes in behavior: How does the school food environment—from garden-based learning to nutrition education in the classroom to what’s promoted in the cafeteria—impact what students eat in the lunchroom? Our latest evaluation project with the Tisch Food Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, seeks to measure what students are eating in the lunchroom and learn what program components contribute the most to those healthy eating behaviors. Check back in early 2017 to hear what we’ve learned!
Partner perspectives: Together with Spark Policy Institute, we are completing an external evaluation to get to know the perspectives of some of our most important stakeholders: service site staff, school staff and administration, and community members. To date, we have learned that 98% of respondents say that they highly value the work of FoodCorps in their community.
"The kale chip taste test went amazingly. The elementary school kids and 6th graders loved them so much they wanted seconds and thirds. Because of this great response, our Food Service Director is going to add them to the lunch menu." — service member in Connecticut
The Walmart Foundation supports FoodCorps' implementation of a national measurement tool to assess the impact of its programs in the schools it serves.