Assessing the scale and spread of an experiential teaching kitchen in after-school programming among school-age children

Public Health Nutr. 2021 Aug;24(12):3937-3944. doi: 10.1017/S1368980020004206. Epub 2021 Oct 23.


Objective: To scale-out an experiential teaching kitchen in Parks and Recreation centres' after-school programming in a large urban setting among predominantly low-income, minority children.

Design: We evaluated the implementation of a skills-based, experiential teaching kitchen to gauge programme success. Effectiveness outcomes included pre-post measures of child-reported cooking self-efficacy, attitudes towards cooking, fruit and vegetable preference, intention to eat fruits and vegetables and willingness to try new fruits and vegetables. Process outcomes included attendance (i.e., intervention dose delivered), cost, fidelity and adaptations to the intervention.

Setting: After-school programming in Parks and Recreation Community centres in Nashville, TN.

Participants: Predominantly low-income minority children aged 6-14 years.

Results: Of the twenty-five city community centres, twenty-one successfully implemented the programme, and nineteen of twenty-five implemented seven or more of the eight planned sessions. Among children with pre-post data (n 369), mean age was 8·8 (sd 1·9) years, and 53·7 % were female. All five effectiveness measures significantly improved (P < 0·001). Attendance at sessions ranged from 36·3 % of children not attending any sessions to 36·6 % of children attending at least four sessions. Across all centres, fidelity was 97·5 %. The average food cost per serving was $1·37.

Conclusions: This type of nutritional education and skills building experiential teaching kitchen can be successfully implemented in a community setting with high fidelity, effectiveness and organisational alignment, while also expanding reach to low-income, underserved children.

Keywords: Children; Implementation science; Teaching kitchen; Underserved populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Fruit
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Poverty
  • Schools
  • Vegetables*