The Kids Cook with Heart Program was an AHA initiative that provided hands-on healthy cooking classes. Kids Cook with Heart classes took place at the Halle Heart Museum with JLP volunteers from 2017 – 2019. Participants received instruction in simple main courses, hearty whole grains, salads and a wide variety of vegetable dishes. Lessons also included nutrition, kitchen safety, sanitation and food shopping.
The program utilized professionally developed curriculum that incorporated nutrition with cardio vascular health education. It was designed for up to 18 children (per class) 7 years to 12 years old and used the CORE curriculum standards for math and science. The targeted population was kids and families in underserved neighborhoods or low-income schools. Caregivers were encouraged to drop-off the students (adult participation is limited due to space).
The Kids Cook with Heart program was designed to reach up to 1,000 kids and their families over the course of three years. The ripple effect makes that reach even larger due to attendees sharing their knowledge and skills with family and friends.
Kids Cook with Heart (and Teens Cook with Heart) programs consistently received high participant and parent ratings and recorded positive outcomes, including increased cooking and nutrition knowledge and skills, increased fruit and vegetable consumption and decreased sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.
Here are a few specific outcomes from Kids Cook with Heart and Teens Cook with Heart programs across the country:
- Parents indicate they have reduced their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by 20% and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables by 11% (Los Angeles)
- 35% increase in comfort level in the kitchen (Seattle)
- 36% of participants increased their fruit intake, 43% increased their vegetable intake, 29% decreased their fast food intake, 21% increased their intake of homemade food (San Francisco)
- Teachers commented they observed the students reading the food label on various snack items and beverages, and that a majority of students began drinking more water than juices or other sweetened beverages.