When the NYC Food Policy Center asked Teachers College researcher Pam Koch about her findings on nutrition education, she told them about her evaluation of FoodCorps.
We have been working on an evaluation with FoodCorps. We conducted a cross sectional study with 20 schools from across the country. These schools had a wide range of programming in the FoodCorps three areas of service: Hands-on Learning —which includes nutrition education classes and school garden, Healthy School Meals, and a Schoolwide Culture of Health. In this study, all 20 schools were part of the National School Lunch Program, with its high nutritional standards. Students had, on average, just about a cup of fruits and vegetables on their tray.
We found a high positive correlation between the level of Hands-on Learning and fruits and vegetables consumption at school lunch. More specifically, students who got motivational messages, knowledge, and skills — basically why and how to eat more fruits and vegetables — ate more. Students with the most programming ate three times more fruits and vegetables than students with the least programming. These results warrant a larger, controlled, pre-post outcome trial, that investigates how increases in programming change fruits and vegetables consumption at school lunch.
Pam Koch is the Executive Director of the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Koch led an external evaluation of FoodCorps schools during the 2015-2016 school year.