Cooking Skills Intervention Programming: A Process Evaluation of The Happy Kitchen
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Overweight and obesity are consuming our culture as two thirds of the population is considered overweight or obese. Public policy is focused on nutrition education, but lacks the practical application of that nutrition knowledge. One way public organizations are combating obesity is by providing at-risk populations with cooking skills training. Cooking skills intervention programs are becoming a popular way to introduce communities to new foods and cooking techniques. An example of a cooking skills intervention program here in Austin, TX is the Sustainable Food Center's 'The Happy Kitchen' program. Purpose: The purpose of this applied research project is threefold. First, it will describe the ideal components of an effective cooking skills intervention program obtained from the literature. Second, it will assess the Sustainable Food Center's 'The Happy Kitchen' program using the ideal type components. Third, it will provide recommendations for improving the Sustainable Food Center's 'The Happy Kitchen' program. Methods: For an in-depth assessment of The Happy Kitchen, multiple methods were used which included; document analysis, focused interviews, and direct observations. Results: Findings show that The Happy Kitchen met many of the criteria called for in the practical ideal type for a cooking skills intervention program. While there were areas for improvement, ultimately, it can be determined that The Happy Kitchen is doing a great job in teaching the community how to empower themselves through food and cooking.