The food fun program: a qualitative evaluation
Shanks, Marianna Naomi
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The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of the Food Fun Program on participants. Specifically, this qualitative evaluation explored what program experiences children aged 8-12 integrated into their lives at home, as well as what inhibited and facilitated integration. The Food Fun Program aimed to teach children basic food preparation and cooking skills, food and kitchen safety, and basic nutrition in a fun,safe, and interactive manner. Food preparation and cooking, games, crafts, outside activities, food experiments, and field trips were the basis of daily activities in this one week summer day camp. Participant observation of the camps, focus groups with children, document review, and interviews with the Nutrition Resource and Volunteer Centre director and camp counselors were used to gain an understanding of the program, to establish rapport with the interview participants, and to obtain information for subsequent interviews with parents and children. Qualitative interviews were the main source of data collection for exploring the research questions. Children and/or their parents were interviewed six weeks after children participated in the camp. Interviews were conducted with children and parents, individually, in their homes. Observations were recorded using field notes and were analyzed for key program activities. Interviews and focus groups were tape-recorded and interviews were transcribed verbatim. Parent and child interviews were separately analyzed for common themes and categories. The results indicate that children integrated camp recipes into their lives at home and that children were more confident, involved in different food related activities, more aware of nutrition, and more willing to try new foods after the camp. The results indicate that lack of time, involvement in other activities, and parents' restriction of food-related activities may have inhibited integration of camp experiences. The results also indicate that encouragement and help from parents and the hands-on nature of the Food Fun Program may have facilitated integration of camp experiences into life at home. The findings suggest that hands-on cooking experiences and parent involvement are important components of nutrition programs for children. These findings will guide the NRVC in setting direction for the program.