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.
Focus groups and surveys over the past 5 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. Many are eager to see FoodPrints implemented more frequently.
- “Coming back from the pandemic, students have been learning how to communicate with each other again. FoodPrints gives them that extra time to do that in a safe environment.” – Christina Greta Schorn, Art Teacher, Amidon-Bowen ES
- “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 alumni express many lasting impacts of the program.
Focus groups with both current FoodPrints students and alumni at middle school, high school, and post-high school levels showed that FoodPrints strengthened students’ awareness of and connection to nutritious food. Alumni said their cooking skills, openness to new foods, and fond memories of FoodPrints have endured. Read a summary of Youth Perceptions on the Impact of the FRESHFARM FoodPrints Program.
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.