The Fun with Fresh Food (FFF) Rainbow Nutrition program is designed for families to improve attitudes and behaviors around fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption. This includes improving self-efficacy in adults preparing and serving FV, and increased interest in cooking and willingness to try FV in children.
Use of Theory or Research
Previous research suggests parental self-efficacy around food affects children's diet quality. Social Cognitive Theory suggests modeling of food preparation is effective at increasing self-efficacy. Additionally, studies show children may need 10 to 30 exposures to foods before accepting them.
Children (ages 2-13) and their parents/guardians attending summer community events in suburban Georgia in 2018.
FFF uses research-based techniques for addressing picky eating in a six-week series of 20-minute interactive rainbow-themed food “commercials.” Each week centers on a color (i.e. purple), with the specific food (i.e. cabbage) remaining unknown until sessions begin. Children participate in age-appropriate kitchen tasks as part of a recipe demonstration. Sessions include taste tests and produce giveaways.
Weekly post-program parent surveys assessed knowledge and behavioral intention. A final post-survey assessed parents’ perceived impact of series overall. Nine parents with > 50% attendance participated in interviews and focus groups to further explore program impact and acceptability.
Average weekly attendance was 110 people; 50 children attended ≥ 50% of sessions. Eighty-three percent of adults gained FV knowledge and 78% intended to incorporate a recipe or tactic at home. Focus group data showed increased confidence in serving FV, greater interest in children cooking and eating FV, and the rainbow theme being a significant draw.
The FFF program suggests short, repeat exposure to FV can have a strong impact on parental self-efficacy for cooking and eating FV and child interest in FV. Short demos may reduce barriers by illustrating healthy eating does not have to be time consuming or difficult. The FFF model could be employed in many community settings to reach families in a whimsical yet substantive way.