In response to increased interest in plant-based meal offerings, DC Public Schools is seeking to measure consumption of current vegetarian menu offerings and taste test additional vegetarian and plant-based meal offerings in five elementary schools. Based on taste test feedback, the winning menu items will be incorporated into the standard menu offerings and consumption data will be collected again as a comparison. Analysis, evaluation and recommendations will be provided for continuing expansion of menu offerings that achieve the triple aim of responding to consumer interests, increasing student participation in the National School Lunch Program, and improving child nutrition through exposure to foods that are proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and some cancers.
The goal of this work is to gather extensive feedback and insight from Washington, DC community members that will inform future nutrition education programming. Working with Dr. Elizabeth Cotter, PI of Common Threads' Community Insight Grant, we are completing this project in three phases. Phase 1 is focused on interview protocol development and staff training. Phase 2 is focused on completion of the focus groups and interviews. Phase 3 is focused on analyzing the data and disseminating the results. Results indicate that DC residents see the value in developing hands-on cooking skills. Nutrition education programs might consider: 1) more holistic approaches to health that consider experiences of stress and emotional well-being; 2) partnerships with likeminded, longstanding DC institutions; and 3) the use of technology to disseminate cooking information, to further engage residents in this type of programming.