Cooking, healthy eating, fitness and fun (CHEFFs): qualitative evaluation of a nutrition education program for children living at urban family homeless shelters

Am J Public Health. 2013 Dec;103 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S361-7. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301558. Epub 2013 Oct 22.


Objectives: We assessed the feasibility of a 15-week nutrition education, physical activity, and media literacy program for children living in urban family homeless shelters.

Methods: We developed a qualitative monitoring tool to evaluate program process and impact at 2 shelter sites in the Bronx, New York, from 2009 to 2012. Facilitators recorded indications of participants' understanding of intended messages and demonstrations of changes in attitudes and behaviors. Comments, insights, and actions were recorded as they occurred. Facilitators also documented barriers to delivery of content and activities as intended. We used content analysis to examine data for patterns and identify themes.

Results: A total of 162 children participated at the 2 shelter sites. Analysis of qualitative data yielded 3 themes: (1) children's knowledge and understanding of content, (2) children's shift in attitudes or intentions, and (3) interpretations through children's life experience. Food insecurity as well as shelter food service and policies were important influences on children's choices, hunger, and sense of well-being.

Conclusions: Children's experiences highlighted the need to advocate for shelter policies that adequately provide for children's nutritional and physical activity requirements and foster academic development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cooking*
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Health Education / organization & administration*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons*
  • Male
  • New York City
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Urban Population