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The Food Bank For New York City: Evaluation of CookShop Program, Promoting Nutrition for Low-Income Students and Their Families

Metis evaluated the Learning to Work program of the New York City Department of Education, which helps over-age and under-credited youth to graduate from high school.

Metis evaluated a hands-on nutrition education program provided by the Food Bank For New York City's CookShop Classroom program.

An astonishing three million New Yorkers have difficulty accessing sufficient food, according to the Food Bank For New York City, which helps provide 400,000 free meals a day through a network of community organizations such as soup kitchens, food pantries, and senior centers throughout the five boroughs. In addition to providing food directly, the Food Bank offers extensive programming to help low-income New Yorkers eat healthfully on a tight budget. In 2009 and 2010, Metis evaluated two of these programs, which were designed to teach participants how to make healthy food choices and stay fit while alleviating hunger at times when school meals are not available—weekends and school vacations.

The Food Bank's series of “CookShop” programs provides the nutrition knowledge that low-income families must have to construct healthy diets on a budget—amid a dizzying array of low-cost but unhealthy fast food and prepared food in the marketplace. Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, CookShop is offered in schools in conjunction with the New York City Department of Education and various community organizations.

Metis is evaluating five CookShop programs, the largest of which is offered in elementary schools where more than half of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Metis is using a variety of research methods, with an emphasis on surveys of parent and child participants, to evaluate both the implementation and outcomes of the CookShop programs. In the outcome evaluation, Metis is comparing program participants to groups of children and families who are not enrolled. The evaluation looks closely at the program's impact on participants' food consumption—that is, whether children affected by the program are actually eating differently and how the program has impacted their perceptions of nutrition.