There are a number of programs out there that are for improving nutrition for low-income youth. Here at our school, The Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension Program delivers research-based information and nutrition education in the home, in the classroom, and in community group settings to help Pennsylvanians with limited financial resources make better nutrition and health decisions. Under The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) which is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Penn State came up with a curriculum, The Up for the Challenge: Health, Fitness, and Nutrition, which is based on experiential learning model that is structured around direct participation in experiencing, thinking, discussing, and applying what the youth have learned to their daily lives. The curriculum includes nutrition information on MyPyramid, food descriptions, food identification, food preparation skills, and calories intake. The lessons provide expected youth outcomes, instructor's essential information, preparation instructions, supplies, lesson time, handouts, and opportunities for reflection. The overall goal of the curriculum is to promote healthful nutrition knowledge and behaviors with low-income youth.
In this article, it outlines what was used such as pretesting, post testing and delayed post testing, to determine the program effectiveness. The results where that the nutrition knowledge scores for the youth participating in nutrition education lessons from the Up for the Challenge curriculum significantly increased from pretest to posttest and delayed posttest compared to youth in the control group. Additionally nutrition behavior scores of youth increased significantly from pretest to posttest and delayed posttest compared to the control group. These results have been compared to other tests in the past, and the results were collectively the same.
Overall, the findings show that there was program effect on the treatment group. The significant improvement for nutrition knowledge and nutrition behavior scores show that the Up for the Challenge: Healthy Fitness and Nutrition curriculum can be used to change youths' knowledge and behaviors regarding nutrition. The findings also demonstrates that implementing curriculum-based nutrition education lessons using a hands-on, experiential learning approach for youth in afterschool program can have immediate effect on youths' nutrition knowledge and behaviors.