Vermont Success Stories

The Learning Kitchen The Learning Kitchen

This article was written and submitted by Hunger Free Vermont.

In a series of six lessons, participants learn about balancing and planning healthy meals, stretching food dollars to maximize nutrition, shopping strategies, and cooking techniques. An example lesson includes “Produce and Protein,” with a goal to encourage participants to incorporate more fruits, vegetables and healthy protein options into their diet. Classes are taught by community chefs and nutrition experts who volunteer to be trained to lead a series. There are three curricula: youth, young adult, and adult. Though similar in nutrition education content, the young adult and adult curricula include a grocery store trip, and the adult curriculum focuses attention on family feeding skills and child feeding issues. For newsletters, sample recipes, and eligibility information, visit The Learning Kitchen from Hunger Free Vermont.

Type of Program
Hands-on cooking and nutrition education

Years of Program Implementation
1999-Present

Number of Participants
Hunger Free Vermont hosts 40-50 series per fiscal year. On average, 11 participants take part in each series; therefore, 440-550 people participate in The Learning Kitchen yearly. Since 1999 over 7,400 Vermonters have benefited from the program.

Target Audience
The USDA Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program is intended to serve SNAP participants and low- income individuals eligible to receive SNAP benefits or other means-tested federal assistance programs. In Vermont, SNAP is referred to as “3SquaresVT.” Our target audience extends to anyone whose income is at or below 185% of poverty level. It is important to note that more than half of all participants in each series must be part of this target audience.

Program Evaluation
The program is evaluated in several ways to help measure the overarching goal of behavior change, based on the Social Cognitive Theory of behavior change. Evaluation is critical to measure the effectiveness of the curriculum.

There is a 16 question pre/post evaluation survey that is administered on the first and last class to measure changes in dietary behavior of the participants. This evaluation is based on the Food Behavior Checklist, a tested evaluation tool that has been found reliable and valid with low-income audiences, both child and adult.* Hunger Free Vermont analyzes the surveys after the first class and sends the series host a report. These are also used to evaluate the whole program based on aggregated results at the conclusion of each fiscal year.

A weekly check-in data sheet is provided to all Learning Kitchen series and is conducted at the beginning of lessons during group conversation. It is designed to collect information about participants’ behaviors between classes with regard to making the recipes at home and completing the take-home challenges. There is a subjective evaluation that is administered at the final class to solicit comments and feedback.

Hunger Free Vermont has also developed and utilized an evaluation tool for use during on-site visits, which are done as needed to review compliance with SNAP-Ed requirements and to measure program fidelity across different series.

Statistics and Program Impact

      Youth Series
      The number of participants who reported that they
          • prepare meals and snacks for their families either “often” or “every day,” increased from 22% to 41%, between program entry and exit;
          • eat 1.5 cups or more of vegetables each day, increased from 28% to 55%, between program entry and exit;
          • “always” eat whole grain bread when they eat bread, increased from 23% to 33% between program entry and exit.

      Adult Series
      The number of participants who reported that they

          • eat more than one kind of fruit each day either “often” or “every day,” increased from 17% to 57% between program entry and exit;
          • use the Nutrition Facts Label when choosing which foods to eat either “often” or “every day,” increased from 17% to 53% between program entry and exit.



For further information please contact Katy Davis, Hunger Free Vermont. All logos are used with permission.


*(2010). Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 42, (5).