Since the start of the 2007 economic downturn, reliance on emergency food assistance suppliers (eg, food pantries, also known as food shelves) has increased. Many food shelves strive to provide effective nutrition programs to serve their clients, even while they are faced with a scarcity of resources. Rigorous evaluation of the impact of such programming on dietary outcomes is therefore warranted. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a pilot cooking and nutrition education intervention among food shelf clients. A 6-session class was conducted with 63 participants in 4 food shelves in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Diet was assessed through a 24-hour recall from which a Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2010) score was created. Cooking skills were assessed by survey. Average HEI-2010 scores increased from 50.9 at baseline to 58.5 postintervention (P =.01, n = 43). Participants demonstrated improved cooking skills scores postintervention (35.9 vs 33.1 at baseline, P =.002, n = 45). Future research is needed to advance our understanding of how best to improve client nutrition knowledge and cooking skills. This study provides some evidence that improvements in diet and cooking skills can be demonstrated with minimal intervention.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Financial support for this work was provided through the National Cancer Institute by the Cancer Related Health Disparities Education and Career Development Program (5R25CA163184) and UL1TR000114 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).
- Food insecurity
- cooking skills
- nutrition education