Food as Medicine: A Pilot Nutrition and Cooking Curriculum for Children of Participants in a Community-Based Culinary Medicine Class

Haley Marshall, Jaclyn Albin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Healthy dietary change proves challenging for all families navigating the variable food preferences of children but can be especially burdensome for low-income families with limited resources. Encouragingly, programs that engage children in hands-on nutrition education appear to promote changes that positively impact the entire family. From these observations, we designed a dedicated pediatric cooking and nutrition class concurrent with a community-based culinary medicine class for adult clients of a food pantry. Description: Through the Food As Medicine (FAME) nutrition education initiative at community pantry sites, we launched culinary medicine classes for pantry clients and offered concurrent culinary medicine classes for their children. Each pediatric class included an interactive lesson, hands-on cooking, and crafts or games to reinforce concepts prior to sharing a meal with parents. Assessment: The pilot classes launched at two pantry sites, and the team leading the pediatric classes solicited feedback from participants and stakeholders to enable thematic analysis of the impact. Observations included the ability of children to identify new foods and to report enthusiasm for assisting with food preparation at home. Child participants engaged in the class demonstrated willingness to try new foods when joining their parents for a meal. Conclusion: This pilot intervention details an educational, hands-on nutrition and cooking curriculum for children of low-income families. Through age-appropriate experiential learning, we observed a positive impact of this class in its ability to encourage family participation, to augment nutrition lessons taught to parent participants, and to empower young learners to advocate for healthy dietary change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-58
Number of pages5
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Community classes
  • Cooking curriculum
  • Culinary medicine
  • Dietary change
  • Food pantries
  • Food security
  • Low-income families
  • Nutrition education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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