several state programs

Cooking with Kids

This article was submitted by Cooking with Kids, a SNAP-Ed Agency.

When kids help make healthy foods, they are excited to try them!

Cooking with Kids teaches public school children about the joys of healthy cooking and eating and where their food comes from.

boys stirring food in a skillet

A mother recently wrote:

“My boys are twins and I have tried to instill healthy eating habits at home. It has been a struggle. I am so excited because this program has somehow broken down the walls I have been struggling with my children since toddlerhood. I believe, solely, because of this outstanding program, the course of our whole family’s nutrition and health has been changed. I am forever grateful!”

children learning about food

Cooking with Kids (CWK) is a non-profit organization that started in 1995 as an all-volunteer effort in two schools in Santa Fe, New Mexico. With the help of SNAP-Ed funding and support, CWK has grown to serve over 6,000 elementary school children and their families in 13 schools each year. CWK in a nutshell:

      • Hands-on nutrition education classes as part of children’s regular school days. Classes range from ten-minute fruit and vegetable tastings to two-hour cooking classes. This month, kids are making “watermelon pizzas” with locally grown melons!
      • CWK’s bilingual curriculum features recipes from around the world and student activities aligned with Common Core State Standards and National Health Education Standards. The CWK Curriculum is research- and practice-based, and has been positively reviewed in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. It is included in the SNAP-Ed Toolkit.
      • over 1,500 family member volunteers, local chefs and farmers, and public school teachers pitch in each year.
      • New focus on school lunchrooms brings chefs and farmers into cafeterias to help with fruit and vegetable promotions, “Farmers’ Market Days”, “Taste a Rainbow” salad sampling days, and a variety of fun activities for kids, teachers and cafeteria staff.
      • Food service staff trainings and technical assistance go hand-in-hand with system and policy work that supports the purchase of locally sourced produce, increased from-scratch cooking, and community engagement in school lunchrooms. This work is accomplished through partnerships with school districts, state agencies, and state SNAP-Ed partners.

a girl rolling dough with her hands

a girl squeezing an orange

Stories from kids, parents and teachers show CWK is making a difference:
“I learned how to cut a zucchini and this makes me happy because I never knew how to cut a zucchini!”
—3rd grade student

“Cooking with Kids is my all-time favorite public school program. I have fun cooking with my children’s classes and my kids have tried and liked foods they would never try at home. My kids have also asked to help at home to make many of the recipes we have gotten from this program.”
—CWK parent

“Cooking with Kids speaks to the way that young children learn and remember their learning. It is hands on and actually becomes a part of each student in a way that is inescapable. They actually eat their learning! One of the best parts of school.”
—2nd grade teacher

girls laughing at a table with a teacher

SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework Indicators:
ST1: Organizational Partnerships
ST8: Multi-Sector Partnerships and Planning
MT1: Healthy Eating
MT5: Nutrition Supports
MT8: Agriculture
LT9: Leveraged Resources

colorful produce

For more information, contact Anna Farrier at 505-438-0098.

Smarter Lunchrooms Movement Logo The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement

This article was submitted by Heidi Kessler, Executive Director, Smarter Lunchrooms National Office

The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement conducts research in thousands of schools across the country in order to identify the best ways to nudge students to select and consume the healthiest food in the lunchroom. The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement brings this evidence into school lunchrooms with trainings, materials, and expert advice. The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement is an approved and effective way to meet several policy, systems, and environmental change (PSE) intervention goals for SNAP-ED. The Smarter Lunchrooms National Office offers a certified Smarter Lunchrooms Technical Assistance Provider program that can prepare and empower SNAP-ED staff to provide training and technical assistance to target schools. The Smarter Lunchrooms National Office is releasing a new look and feel, website, trainings, materials, and scorecard in January 2017. Here is a sneak peek at the new logo:
Smarter Lunchrooms Movement Logo


The Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs

What year(s) was this program in place?

How many people participate in this program?
30,000 schools

Who is the target audience?
K-12 school nutrition environments

Program Evaluation:
The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement uses the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard as the premier tool to measure implementation of research based strategies in the lunchroom. Success in a school is easily demonstrated by before and after scorecard results and before and after photos. Additional successes can be identified using production records, sales records, and by collecting plate waste. A new and improved 60 point Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard will be released nationally this month!

Relevant Outcomes:
Smarter Lunchrooms strategies are grounded in research conducted at the consumer level. Strategies are backed by research in behavioral economics, psychology, and marketing. Implementing Smarter Lunchrooms strategies can result in an 18% increase in fruit consumption and a 25% increase in vegetable consumption.

For further information contact Heidi Kessler, Executive Director, Smarter Lunchrooms National Office. All logos are used with permission.