Schools as Hubs of Health: A Case Study on Comprehensive Nutrition Education Program Delivery


      To pilot a comprehensive nutrition education and obesity prevention program delivery model at one school site over a four month intervention period.

      Target Audience

      Low-income elementary school students, school staff, parents, and collaborating community organizations.

      Theory, Prior Research, Rationale

      Research consistently shows that implementing changes across multiple levels of the Social-Ecological Model (SEM) can improve eating and physical activity behaviors. To build a comprehensive obesity prevention service delivery model this program targeted multiple levels of the SEM through environmental changes; youth development; and inquiry-based, learner centered and experiential nutrition education curricula.


      During the 2014-15 academic year, UC CalFresh piloted a comprehensive nutrition education program, based on the socio-ecological model, at a school site in Santa Maria, CA. This included interventions in staff training, classroom education, lunchroom environment, garden-based education, parent education, food demonstrations, youth engagement, and school-wide events.


      Evaluation included pre and post nutrition knowledge surveys and anthropometrics, tracking and retrospective observation of student nutrition and physical activity behaviors, school environment assessments, fidelity observations, and a partnership assessment survey. Results revealed numerous successes, including significant gains in student nutrition knowledge and behaviors, positive changes to school environments, and positive developments in community partnerships, as well as opportunities to improve future programming.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Overall, moving to a comprehensive model resulted in positive changes in students, staff, and community partnerships. Future interventions should include a greater emphasis on physical activity, support for teachers in the garden, parent involvement, and a longer intervention period.


      USDA, California Department of Social Services (CDSS) CalFresh Branch, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE)

      Supplementary data