Abstract| Volume 45, ISSUE 4, SUPPLEMENT , S19-S20, July 2013

School Pantry and Meals (SPAM): A Pilot Study of Individualized Meal Planning and Food Preparation Instruction


      To provide high school students with individualized meal planning and food preparation skills so they can better provide nutritious family meals using foods available from their School Food Pantry Program.

      Target audience

      Food insecure high school students participating in the new, bi-monthly School Food Pantry Program that is sponsored by the regional foodbank.

      Theory, Prior Research, Rationale

      Based on research using the Stage-Environment Fit Theory, increasing decision making opportunities for adolescents within the home, such as preparing food, will result in higher self-esteem and confidence. The Behavior Capability construct of the Social Cognitive Theory was also applied.


      A pilot test of the SPAM nutrition education program, which includes meal planning, food preparation, food safety practices, and tips for selecting more nutritious food was designed and implemented. Students prepared four different meals using foods received from the school food pantry and combined written recipes to fulfil the “MyPlate” recommendations. The students ate the meal together, taking remaining food home to their families.


      Based on pre- and post- questionnaires, students’ ability to correctly identify MyPlate food groups increased 30% with a high level of satisfaction and a desire for future classes noted.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Students improved basic nutrition knowledge during this pilot program and enjoyed the individualized cooking instruction, finding it useful in their lives. The interest in future classes provides the opportunity for students to develop their cooking abilities and build confidence in meal planning to get them moving from good to great!