Background: To describe the development and implementation of a pilot pediatric nutrition curriculum created by medical students for underserved communities.
Methods: Medical students designed an interactive cooking and nutrition curriculum for children to address local community needs. Children participated in the four-module pilot program offered over the summer. Participants completed pretest and posttest surveys before and after the four-week curriculum. A post curriculum implementation survey was filled out by parents to assess long-term effectiveness of the program.
Results: The course was divided into four themed nutrition classes that represented major staples of the diet. Within each themed class existed supporting objectives involving kitchen safety, serving sizes, nutrition labels, etc. The pretest group (n=44) scored an average of 59% (n= 3.55/6) on six nutrition knowledge questions. The posttest group (n=21) scored an average of 68% (n = 4.1/6). Post implementation survey response rate was 16% (n = 7/44) with 100% (n = 7/7) of respondents reporting that they would definitely recommend the program. Using a ranking scale (1–5), parents strongly agreed (4.6–5.0) that their children exhibited more confidence in the kitchen (5.0), developed more interest in preparing meals and snacks (4.7), demonstrated greater awareness of kitchen safety (4.7) and displayed more knowledge about nutrition (4.6) after participating in the nutrition program.
Conclusion: After piloting the program for two seasons, surveys identified baseline participant characteristics, nutrition knowledge, expected retention rates and longitudinal behavior changes. Further optimization of surveys is needed to better assess the efficacy of the program.