FoodPrints Results

Evaluation of the FoodPrints model has demonstrated significantly more consumption of plant-based meals in school lunchrooms, greater preferences for fruits and vegetables, bolstered standards-based education in DC Public Schools, and high value by families.

Youth voices illustrate the lasting effects of the FRESHFARM FoodPrints program.
This unique study of youth perceptions of FoodPrints demonstrates the program’s enduring impact over time in participants’ appreciation for fresh food, openness to trying new foods, and confidence to make informed food decisions. The results were published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior in January 2024 in an article titled “Participant Perspectives on the Impact of a School-Based, Experiential Food Education Program Across Childhood, Adolescence and Young Adulthood.” The study was conducted by George Washington University researchers and based on focus groups with 78 current and former FoodPrints students in 2022.

Students in schools with Class to Café programming ate, on average, 42% more of the portion size of the FoodPrints-WITS entrée and side salad than students attending schools without Class to Café programming.
Class to Café is a comprehensive food education initiative that integrates garden and nutrition education with systems change in school cafeterias through a partnership between FRESHFARM FoodPrints, Wellness in The Schools (WITS), and DC Public Schools. Students in schools with Class to Café programming consumed more of the portion size of a scratch-cooked meal than students at schools without this programming. Students in Class to Café schools report a greater willingness to try fruits and vegetables and a greater preference for eating fresh produce than students in schools without Class to Café. Read Increasing Consumption of School Meals with Food Education and Chef Coaching in DC Public Schools, a summary of the report, “Farm to School Cafeteria Transformation Evaluation: 2018-2019” by Dr. Katie Kerstetter, 2019.

FoodPrints provides a significant return on investment in the areas of health, academic achievement, whole-child education, environmental responsibility.
The FoodPrints comprehensive food education model provides significant return on investment (ROI) in line with several areas of national research, including (a) Consumption of fruits and vegetables contribute to healthier students and families (Lorson, Melgar-Quinonez, Taylor 2009) and (b) Consumption of nutritious food (Stohr-Hunt 1996) and hands-on engagement with academic content (Anderson, Gallagher, Ritchie 2019) improves academic achievement.

DC Public Schools administrators and teachers highly value FoodPrints in their schools.
Focus groups, surveys, and testimonials over the past six years demonstrate that DCPS educators say FoodPrints helps them meet their school goals – they highly value FoodPrints’ support for academics, STEM, social-emotional learning, and a positive food culture. Statements of support from educators include:

  • “FoodPrints is an invaluable program – it’s just amazing how it transforms students’ ideas about food. And nobody wants to miss it. When it’s a FoodPrints day, students want to come to school.”  – Nadia Torney, Math Instructional Coach, Kimball ES
  • “Our social-emotional learning (SEL) model is ‘come with curiosity, leave with confidence.’ In FoodPrints they’re trying new things, they’re learning, they’re not afraid to learn things, so it literally ties right into our mission.”  – Tarsha Warren, Assistant Principal, Burroughs ES
  • No other program has provided all of our students with such a diverse, hands-on curriculum perfect for connecting science to the foods and flowers they grow and the delicious healthy meals they create!”  – Lisa Washington, Speech Language Therapist, Whittier ES
  • “FoodPrints builds a positive food culture at our school.”  – Siriwan Mobley, Librarian and Reading Specialist, C.W. Harris ES

FoodPrints students demonstrated positive youth outcomes during virtual learning.
A review of virtual cooking and garden science classes school year 2020-21 school year and summer 2021 out-of-school-time programming, students demonstrated positive youth outcomes, documented Dr. Katie Kerstetter. Students demonstrated Responsibility and Autonomy through the ability to complete cooking tasks on their own, and adapt recipes based on ingredients available in their homes. “From the student perspective, students demonstrated their belonging and membership by actively engaging in FoodPrints sessions and extending the reach of FoodPrints lessons to their family members.” (Kerstetter 2021)

The FoodPrints program is a “feasible and sustainable” program model for contemporary nutrition education.
An observational study by George Mason University researchers in the 2015-16 school year documented what is being learned and accomplished in FoodPrints classrooms, including knowledge of dietary health; enriched Science, Social Studies, Language Arts and Math curriculum learning; appreciation and consumption of nutritious food; promotion of social cohesion and shared focus through the ritual of taking the first bite together.

The study’s author concluded that “There was ample evidence of program goals being realized…. Lessons focused on nutritional health aimed to concretize concepts that might otherwise be beyond the reach of elementary school children and provided information of practical importance that may improve students’ dietary health in the long-term…. FoodPrints is an important change agent.” Read a summary of the report “FRESHFARM FoodPrints Program Evaluation” by Dr. Amy Best and Alexis Lahr, 2016.

Conversations and advocacy with partner school communities demonstrates that families place high value on FoodPrints programming.
Research and anecdotal evidence indicates that FoodPrints can influence children’s and family members’ knowledge, willingness, and ability to eat fresh, healthy food. Parents, teachers, and students from across the city express enthusiasm for the program and the importance of FoodPrints for their school and family – in letters calling FoodPrints “a gem in our city” and saying “the FoodPrints staff has been an invaluable part of our collaborative school team.”