Kindergarten Nutrition Education Program Evaluation with Students + Parents

Building a Healthy Me!

Providing the Foundation for a Lifetime of Healthy Habits

Full Evaluation Results

Evaluation Summary

Kindergarteners and transitional kindergarteners are busy learning new skills, including healthy eating. Dairy Council of California’s Building a Healthy Me! 8-unit nutrition education program is aligned with California’s Common Core State Standards, and is designed specifically for children of these ages. Primary goals of the program are to teach children about the five food groups and how to differentiate food-group foods from foods that are high in empty calories.

Lessons Overview
  • Learn the five food groups (Milk Products, Grains, Vegetables, Fruit, Meats + Beans)
  • Choosing nutritious snacks from the five food groups
  • Eating a healthy breakfast
Program Materials
  • Teacher guide and online resources such as SmartBoard activities
  • Two colorful food group posters
  • Box of food pictures for in-class activities helping children to identify foods
  • Student workbooks
  • Family homework activities to share information with families
Key findings from evaluating the program
  • The program improved students’ ability to correctly classify individual foods into the food group to which they belong
  • The program improved students’ ability to choose healthy breakfast options over breakfast foods high in empty calories
  • Students increased their consumption of salad, beans, and whole grains after the program
  • Students decreased their consumption of fried potatoes and candy after the program
  • Parents were more likely to read nutrition labels after the program
  • Teachers supported the program, indicating it was age appropriate, accomplished its goals, and that preparation and activity times were short
  • Average preparation time for the activities ranged from 3 to 8 minutes. Average class time for the activities ranged from 11 to 19 minutes

Results of the classroom evaluation were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of School Health describing the changes in Kindergarten students knowledge as well as improvements in student and parent food behaviors. 

Young children begin developing eating patterns that can extend into adulthood. The Building a Healthy Me! Program for kindergarten and transitional kindergarten showed evidence of improving students’ knowledge of nutrition food groups and healthy breakfast options. It also resulted in improvements in students’ consumption of food-group foods and decreases in consumption of some empty-calorie foods such as candy. The family homework may have also increased parents’ focus on nutrition, indicated by parents’ increased use of food labels. Teachers overwhelming felt the program was age appropriate and accomplished its goals.
About the study
A formative evaluation of the Building a Healthy Me! program was conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California during the 2013-2014 school year. Over 700 students and 500 parents of those students participated in the evaluation as an Intervention group. Researchers evaluated changes in students’ nutrition knowledge and dietary intake, nutrition behaviors of parents, and teachers’ opinions of the Building a Healthy Me! program. The Intervention group was measured on key outcomes prior-to and after participating in the program. After the program ended, the evaluation also compared the Intervention group students to a Control group of 101 students who had not participated in the program. Read the full report here.

View Building a Healthy Me! kindergarten nutrition 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

I really like the program. The songs & posters help the children to engage right away. They make all kinds of connections. The extension activities are well planned - good active learning
I enjoyed teaching this program. It's essential for students, as young as kindergarten-age, to become aware of healthy options and why they are necessary.