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Cooking for Kids: Culinary Training for School Nutrition Professionals Positively Affects School Nutrition Professionals’ Culinary Practices and Beliefs

      Objective

      The purpose of this project was to evaluate the mid-term outcomes of Cooking for Kids regional skill development workshops on the beliefs related to school meals, and food preparation and marketing practices of participating school nutrition professionals (SNPs).

      Theory, Prior Research, Rationale

      The Community Readiness Model was used for program development and evaluation of the program. Social Cognitive Theory constructs were implemented to improve knowledge, skills efficacy, and beliefs related to SNPs’ role in student health outcomes. Past research supports the use of both theories for successful health promotion interventions.

      Description

      Cooking for Kids Regional Training was offered during June and July, 2015, at 6 sites in Oklahoma. Program structure included classroom lecture and instructional videos along with hands-on application in the on-site kitchen. Target audience was Oklahoma SNPs working in school districts that participate in federally funded Child Nutrition Programs.

      Evaluation

      Participants completed a questionnaire regarding nutrition attitudes/beliefs and culinary practices on day 1 of training and 6 months post-training. There was an increase in use of mise en place and Smarter Lunchrooms practices. SNP reported a significant increase in the belief that the food they serve tastes good, belief that teachers, administration, and staff think the food tastes good and is healthy, and belief that parents think the food tastes good. SNP also reported an increased belief that food they serve impacts health and academic performance of students.

      Conclusions and Implications

      A chef-based culinary training has potential to increase skills efficacy of SNPs and increase the value of school nutrition’s role in student health by SNP and key stakeholders. Future training efforts should address menu planning and procurement.

      Funding

      Oklahoma State Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs

      Supplementary data