FamilyCook Productions’ Focus on Measurable Behavior Change Fuels National Dissemination
In the beginning, an exhausted single parent’s daily preparation of multicultural meals with her young sons was a better way to get dinner on the table and spend quality time. Soon FamilyCook Productions (FCP) was founded and the nonprofit has been a pioneering leader in culinary nutrition education for obesity prevention for over 20 years. Its work spans from preschool aged children through adulthood. By 2003, using a train-the-trainer model, FCP began to embed the capacity for effective nutrition education through hands-on cooking in schools, community organizations, on farms and other settings. FCP’s turnkey, evidence-based and field-tested curricula have been replicated in more than 30 states nationwide, in over 400 partner sites reaching over 300,000 adults and youth. Additionally, hundreds of FamilyCook recipes are available through Kidney Kitchen, a collaboration of FamilyCook with the American Kidney Fund.
Contributing to the literature and illuminating best practices is a driving force behind FamilyCook’s work. From the early days of its program dissemination, FamilyCook has partnered with research institutions to ensure program evaluation and behavior change research were integral to its work. Through its signature program, Teen Battle Chef, FCP demonstrated that adolescents could become inspiring change agents. These youth spend a semester learning cooking techniques and new cuisines, culminating in two teams battling it out for the teen chef championship. Richer than the sweet satisfaction of winning, however, is the lasting impact the program has on its graduates. Research shows that 74% of alumni attained and sustained a healthy weight by following program behavior targets and 90% become positive influencers on their peers and families eating behavior. Research published by FamilyCook Productions in 2020 provides a Framework for using 10 Experiential Drivers of Behavior Change specifically for Teaching Kitchens. FamilyCook’s newest program is Deliciously Healthy, a program to support chronic disease patients to better manage their health through an improved relationship with food. This program and associated evaluation and research will have initial outcomes in late 2021.