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.
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.
A review FoodPrints evidence shows 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.
DCPS administrators and teachers highly value FoodPrints in their schools.
DC Public Schools administrators and teachers report that FoodPrints is an important partner in meeting school goals, and supporting academic and social emotional learning. When DCPS classroom teachers in FoodPrints partner schools were asked to evaluate FoodPrints:
- 86% rated the academic support FoodPrints provides to their students as important.
- 75% said that family engagement through FoodPrints is important for their school.
- 89% said that the school garden is important to their students.
- 97% said that the nutrition education provided by FoodPrints is important for their students.
- 91% reported that FoodPrints’ support for socio-emotional development is important for their students.
FoodPrints students demonstrate positive youth outcomes of Responsibility & Autonomy and Membership & Belonging, as documented in our out-of-school-time programming.
A review of school year 2020-21 school year and summer 2021 out-of-school-time programming – in the form of virtual cooking and garden science classes — adapted from the usual collaborative, hands-on learning of in-person FoodPrints classes — students demonstrated positive youth outcomes, as documented in an analysis of across the school year by 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.” (Kersetter 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 as:
FoodPrints is an important change agent.
- 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.”
> 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. Letters of support – like this letter calling FoodPrints “a gem in our city” – from parents, teachers, and students from across the city express enthusiasm for the program and the importance of FoodPrints for their school and family.