To evaluate the virtual implementation of Food Smarts, a learner-centered cooking and nutrition curriculum, in citywide congregate meal sites using process evaluation methods.
Use of Theory or Research
Older adults are at high risk for inadequate nutrition, which can contribute to loss of independence, disease complications, increased healthcare costs and short-term mortality. Virtual nutrition education can be an effective intervention to encourage older adults to adopt behaviors that improve nutritional status and support healthy aging.
Older adults (aged 60 years and older) enrolled in congregate meal programs in San Francisco.
Virtual Food Smarts workshops were delivered via online platform Zoom and participants joined via personal devices from home. Each workshop consists of 4 weekly classes and the duration of each class is 60 minutes. Topics included plant-based eating, nutrition labels and chronic disease prevention. Within a 6-month period, 10 series of classes for 7 congregate meal sites were delivered.
An online post-workshop satisfaction survey was administered via email after the last class. Survey evaluated nutrition-related knowledge and dietary behaviors as a result of class participation.
Out of 477 participants, 331 participants attended 2 or more classes and 108 survey responses were collected. Nearly 100% participants expressed positive behavior change in all measures. Behavior measures with the largest changes included increased consumption of fruits and vegetables (98%), increased knowledge of whole grains and beans (99%) and increased confidence in ability to prepare food for self (99%).
The virtual delivery of Food Smarts has demonstrated success in improving dietary behaviors and self-management of nutritional health for nearly all participants. These results can be used as preliminary data for informing future interventions and virtual nutrition education programs for older adult populations.