Program Evaluatoin: Improve Second Grade Students' Food Choices

Healthy Choices, Healthy Me!

Improve Second Grade Students' Food Choices

Full Evaluation Results

Evaluation Summary

The Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! nutrition education program is developed for second graders and aligns with the USDA’s nutrition guidance system. The second grade program includes nine lessons aligned with California’s Common Core Standards. Topics build from first grade with classifying foods into the five food groups and builds on planning balanced meals. 

Lessons Cover
  • Importance of consuming nutritious foods from the five food groups
  • Minimizing consumption of low-nutrient foods high in sugars and fats
  • Importance of eating a balanced meals and snacks
  • Being physically active for 60 minutes per day
Program Materials
  • Teacher guide
  • Box of food pictures for in-class activities helping children to identify foods
  • A storybook
  • Student workbooks
  • A Note to Families brochure sent home with students
Key findings from evaluating the program
  • The program improved students’ competency to classify foods within food groups
  • The program improved students’ ability to identify nutritious snack foods over foods high in empty calories
  • Increases in nutrition knowledge persisted throughout the school year
  • Students reported eating more proteins, dairy products, vegetables, and whole grain foods for breakfast after the program
  • Students were more physically active following the program 
  • Parent nutrition resources further improved student nutrition knowledge and snack choices
  • Teachers reported that the program was easy to implement in their classrooms
Conclusions
The Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! program second graders was easily implemented by teachers, and it appeared to improve children’s knowledge of food groups and healthy snacks. There was also evidence that the program increased children’s physical activity and their consumption of nutritious food group foods for breakfast instead of foods high in empty calories. 

About the study
The program was evaluated by researchers at WestEd, an independent research firm. Primary outcomes of interest included teachers’ and students’ satisfaction of the program, the age-appropriateness of the nutrition education lessons, and whether or not children gained nutrition knowledge, increased physical activity, and ate more nutritious breakfasts during the program. The summative evaluation included 38 second grade California classrooms (close to 800 students) during the 2005-2006 school year. The second grade evaluation included a Control group for comparison, and it measured Intervention and Control groups prior to and after participating in the program. 

The project also assessed student outcomes based on nutrition education information sent home to parents. Half of the classrooms receiving the nutrition lessons received a second parent booklet, Making Meals Matter for Your School-Age Child. Results suggest that the additional materials improved student nutrition knowledge, healthy dietary behaviors such as eating vegetables or cheese for a snack, and intent to change future dietary choices. This indicates the significant impact parents have on second graders' food choices.

Read the full report.

 

View Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! program materials.

Full Evaluation Results

Nutrition programs are free to California teachers and available for a nominal cost for teachers from other states.

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Teacher Comments

The success of HCHM depends on teachers to implement each lesson, fidelity to the program and their level of interest in the subject matter. All of the 19 teachers in the treatment group returned the Teacher Survey and the majority were very happy with the program and the specific lessons.

Feedback on each lesson was solicited and suggestions are included with ongoing program improvements. In fact, 12 teachers "agreed" and seven "somewhat agreed" that implementation of the program was easy for them. Eighteen teachers marked that their nutrition goals were mostly or completely met after using the program. Teacher comments included:

This was a highly motivating program with lasting results for the children. It was easy to use and integrate into the Houghton Mifflin Reading series.
The parents were pleased that their kids were getting involved in balancing their meals. They really liked it.