Abstract| Volume 45, ISSUE 4, SUPPLEMENT , S18-S19, July 2013

Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption among Low Income Ethnically Diverse Students through Afterschool Cooking Clubs


      Community Kitchens Northwest hosts 8 after school cooking clubs with the objectives that students increase their fruit and vegetable consumption, gain basic cooking skills, and build confidence to cook balanced meals at home.

      Target audience

      More than 140 students in 3rd to 12th grade in schools in an ethnically diverse, low income neighborhood participated in after school cooking clubs in 2011-2013. Weekly classes were based on a curriculum that included teaching “My Plate,” knife skills, and flavor combining to make foods taste satisfying.

      Theory, Prior Research, Rationale

      Previous studies showed that hands-on cooking positively influenced students to try new foods, especially fruits and vegetables.


      The after school cooking programs focus on hands-on cooking using seasonal produce. Recipes are seldom used with the emphasis of “freestyle” cooking using what is locally available. This more closely reflects the reality of home cooking and can greatly reduce the cost when preparing a meal.


      Evaluation using bi-weekly surveys and focus groups at the end of the 10 week program identified students made healthier food choices. Students reported increased knowledge of green and root vegetables, and had new cooking skills, especially knife skills. Students responded they now eat more whole grains and more vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and green beans. Students also reported eating fruits for snacks and they helped to prepare meals at home using healthy cooking methods.

      Conclusions and Implications

      These positive results suggest that having more after school cooking programs can promote students to make healthy choices to eat more fruits and vegetables and cook more at home.


      United Way of King County.