Posted on Jan 09, 2024, 1 p.m.
Home Economics/Family and Consumer Sciences covers aspects from both inside and outside of home life and wellness such as cooking, cleaning/hazards, food groups/nutrition, consumer literacy, family finance/budgets, healthy lifestyles, gardening, and sewing among other helpful life skills, used to be taught from middle school through high school and were required to graduate. Unfortunately, most schools have removed this program that was designed to help prepare children to be independent and successful in the future from their curriculum.
However, to encourage more fruit and vegetable consumption among our youth, experimental food educational programs like cooking lessons, and gardening have increased in community and school settings. Thousands of children from over 20 elementary schools have participated in FRESHFARM FoodPrints Programs successfully over the past 15 years, and a study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior reveals how early training can positively influence food habits as children grow.
"While food education programs are evaluated, much of the evidence of program impact comes from evaluations less than a year after the class, and little is known about the enduring impact through childhood and into adulthood,” said the lead study author Christine St. Pierre, MPH, RD, Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University.
This study explored the experiences of both current and former participants of the FRESHFARM FoodPrints educational programs. The first program participants have grown and present a unique opportunity to follow up on those who have aged out of the program to see if the alumni have been maintaining what they learned nearly 15 years ago. Questions were designed by the researchers regarding participant experience, current dietary behaviors, food environments, and the impression of the program.
Emergent themes were identified into three categories of impact: immediate, beyond the classroom, and sustained. Immediate impact included enjoyment of the experience, hands-on learning, and connection with others through a shared experience. Beyond the classroom impacts shifted to individual and family food choices, increased involvement in family food practices, and interest in fresh food options at school. Sustained impacts included appreciation for fresh food, openness to trying new food and confidence in making food decisions.
"While we recognize the demands on education resources and the precious time of teachers, findings in this study suggest that investment in experiential food education in elementary school can provide an important contribution to the continuation of healthy dietary behaviors as children grow up.,” commented St. Pierre.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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T.W. at WHN
Christine St. Pierre, April Sokalsky, Jennifer M. Sacheck. Participant Perspectives on the Impact of a School-Based, Experiential Food Education Program Across Childhood, Adolescence, and Young Adulthood. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 2024; 56 (1): 4 DOI: 10.1016/j.jneb.2023.10.012