5210 Nutrition Program - 5 Core Elements
Program elements are based on five core tenets:
Educate – The program strives to educate students, parents, school staff and community members on the “why, what and how” of healthy eating and active living. By using a very simple, easy-to-remember message, the program keeps a sharp focus. Activity-based nutrition lessons are a core element of the program and are delivered to all audiences in a variety of settings, including in schools, after-school programs, summer programs, parent meetings, staff meetings and community events.
Engage – Awareness and education set the stage for the next tenet: engagement. Education is not an end goal in and of itself (although we do measure knowledge growth), but is designed to invite participation by way of experiments, poster contests, physical activity challenges, role modeling, mentoring, goal setting, family activities and special projects. At this stage, community engagement is critical and is when our concept of a loosely organized, action-oriented local collaborative enters. Our collaborative includes city, school, community, health care and non-for-profit groups who work within the target community and take turns hosting meetings designed to highlight each member's services/resources and discuss needs and opportunities within the schools.
Enable – “It takes a village” is a philosophy that supports our program’s success. Once children/family/schools/community are educated and engaged, they need to be enabled to make healthy food and activity choices. The collaborative framework is one in which we can push for policy and environmental change, locate resources, find funding and partners to work with schools to make changes or offer services that enable an environment that supports change. There is also a critical role for parent groups, schools and after-school food service staff to support program goals. The village also includes our mentoring programs where middle and high school students can be engaged to work with feeder schools on special projects as well as projects within their own schools. District leadership support is critical to the success of the schools. Collaborative members are also a wonderful resource for scaling the program or taking it to new geographic areas.
Evaluate – All program elements are tested and measured for impact on an ongoing basis using survey tools (measure knowledge gain and self-reported behavior change), checklists and attendance statistics (number of students taking pre and post surveys, goal-setting activities, poster contest entries, number of students in after-school programs, number of students participating in special activity contests, number of parents at trainings/special meetings, number of teachers/food service staff) as well as soft data such as visual inventories and verbal feedback. Schools are offered a variety of program elements. They are asked to include core elements and encouraged to add others based on the unique needs of their school. Surveys allow us to cross-reference results based on how comprehensive the program and analyze data to see if a more robust program shows greater improvements.
Evolve – The program is not static. One of the keys to success is an inventory of the schools and community that allows the program to leverage the unique opportunities, culture and healthy heroes already in place. Sharing best practices across the program, performing a critical analysis and sharing of data, maintaining ongoing communication with community partners and encouraging an evolutionary approach to program design allows the program to work in a variety of communities.