Tisch Food Center Launches New Evaluation Partnerships to Explore Healthy School | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation
TFC Banner

Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy

Skip to content Skip to content

Tisch Food Center Launches New Evaluation Partnerships to Explore Healthy School Environments

The Tisch Food Center is launching partnerships with NYC’s Wellness in the Schools (WITS) and the national service organization FoodCorps to evaluate the impact of their work creating school environments that help kids be healthy and ready to learn. 

The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University works to strengthen the nationwide movement to transform schools into healthier places for kids. In 2015 the Tisch Food Center is launching partnerships with NYC’s Wellness in the Schools (WITS) and the national service organization FoodCorps to evaluate the impact of their work creating school environments that help kids be healthy and ready to learn. The multi-year studies of these growing organizations will highlight program successes, opportunities for growth, and challenges to be overcome.

“These complementary partnerships present a unique opportunity to learn more about programs working on the ground to give kids great experiences with good food and physical activity. We can apply academic research methods to evaluate programs in real world settings,” says Dr. Pamela Koch, Executive Director of the Tisch Food Center.

As Congress plans to pass the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act in 2015, policies and practices supporting healthy schools are a top priority. Organizations like WITS and FoodCorps promote school gardens, seasonal cooking classes, active play time at recess, and nutrition education. These types of interventions are replicable ways to encourage kids to eat more nutritious school meals, be more active during the school day, and develop positive attitudes toward healthful behaviors.

Wellness in the Schools inspires healthy eating, environmental awareness and fitness as a way of life for approximately 30,000 kids in 60 public schools in New York, Kentucky and Florida. The Tisch Food Center will evaluate two WITS programs, Cook for Kids and Coach for Kids. NYC schools receiving WITS will be compared to control, non-WITS schools with similar risk for unhealthy eating, physical activity habits and obesity. The effectiveness of these programs will be assessed over two academic years comparing students at WITS and control schools on school lunch consumption, activity at recess, classroom attention, and academic achievement. This evaluation is funded through a grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation.

"Comprehensive evaluation is critical to the growth of our work," says WITS Executive Director and Founder Nancy Easton, "We very much look forward to this 'deep dive' into our programming and to implementing the recommendations that stem from the evaluation."

FoodCorps, an AmeriCorps partner, connects kids to healthy food by placing service members in over 400 schools across the nation to foster the creation of holistically healthy school food environments. The Tisch Food Center will work with FoodCorps to rebuild and relaunch the scorecard tool that sits at the center of FoodCorps' work planning and tracking their impact in schools. The Center will then evaluate the program by measuring its effect on students’ consumption of healthy food during school meals in a subset of FoodCorps schools compared to matched control schools. Additionally, service members’ written reflections on their daily experiences will help illuminate successes and challenges of program implementation.

"The problems of child health that FoodCorps addresses are complex. Since our inception, learning from data and feedback has been baked into our model -- helping us make the best choices about how we deploy our valuable human resources to address that complexity. This partnership with Teachers College will enhance that effort dramatically, providing key information about where our model succeeds and where it can be improved, and ultimately helping us understand the true benefit we provide kids, schools, and communities," says Cecily Upton, VP of programs at FoodCorps.

The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, housed in the Program in Nutrition at Teachers College, Columbia University cultivates research about connections between a just, sustainable food system and healthy eating and translates it into recommendations and resources for educators, policy makers, and community advocates. The Tisch Food Center focuses on schools as critical levers for learning and social change. It has three broad areas of research: food systems, nutrition education, and public policy. The Tisch Food Center has extensive experience evaluating school-based food and nutrition programs.

 

Published Thursday, Mar. 19, 2015

Tisch Food Center Launches New Evaluation Partnerships to Explore Healthy School Environments

The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University works to strengthen the nationwide movement to transform schools into healthier places for kids. In 2015 the Tisch Food Center is launching partnerships with NYC’s Wellness in the Schools (WITS) and the national service organization FoodCorps to evaluate the impact of their work creating school environments that help kids be healthy and ready to learn. The multi-year studies of these growing organizations will highlight program successes, opportunities for growth, and challenges to be overcome.

“These complementary partnerships present a unique opportunity to learn more about programs working on the ground to give kids great experiences with good food and physical activity. We can apply academic research methods to evaluate programs in real world settings,” says Dr. Pamela Koch, Executive Director of the Tisch Food Center.

As Congress plans to pass the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act in 2015, policies and practices supporting healthy schools are a top priority. Organizations like WITS and FoodCorps promote school gardens, seasonal cooking classes, active play time at recess, and nutrition education. These types of interventions are replicable ways to encourage kids to eat more nutritious school meals, be more active during the school day, and develop positive attitudes toward healthful behaviors.

Wellness in the Schools inspires healthy eating, environmental awareness and fitness as a way of life for approximately 30,000 kids in 60 public schools in New York, Kentucky and Florida. The Tisch Food Center will evaluate two WITS programs, Cook for Kids and Coach for Kids. NYC schools receiving WITS will be compared to control, non-WITS schools with similar risk for unhealthy eating, physical activity habits and obesity. The effectiveness of these programs will be assessed over two academic years comparing students at WITS and control schools on school lunch consumption, activity at recess, classroom attention, and academic achievement. This evaluation is funded through a grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation.

"Comprehensive evaluation is critical to the growth of our work," says WITS Executive Director and Founder Nancy Easton, "We very much look forward to this 'deep dive' into our programming and to implementing the recommendations that stem from the evaluation."

FoodCorps, an AmeriCorps partner, connects kids to healthy food by placing service members in over 400 schools across the nation to foster the creation of holistically healthy school food environments. The Tisch Food Center will work with FoodCorps to rebuild and relaunch the scorecard tool that sits at the center of FoodCorps' work planning and tracking their impact in schools. The Center will then evaluate the program by measuring its effect on students’ consumption of healthy food during school meals in a subset of FoodCorps schools compared to matched control schools. Additionally, service members’ written reflections on their daily experiences will help illuminate successes and challenges of program implementation.

"The problems of child health that FoodCorps addresses are complex. Since our inception, learning from data and feedback has been baked into our model -- helping us make the best choices about how we deploy our valuable human resources to address that complexity. This partnership with Teachers College will enhance that effort dramatically, providing key information about where our model succeeds and where it can be improved, and ultimately helping us understand the true benefit we provide kids, schools, and communities," says Cecily Upton, VP of programs at FoodCorps.

The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, housed in the Program in Nutrition at Teachers College, Columbia University cultivates research about connections between a just, sustainable food system and healthy eating and translates it into recommendations and resources for educators, policy makers, and community advocates. The Tisch Food Center focuses on schools as critical levers for learning and social change. It has three broad areas of research: food systems, nutrition education, and public policy. The Tisch Food Center has extensive experience evaluating school-based food and nutrition programs.

 

How This Gift Connects The Dots
 
Scholarships & Fellowships
 
Faculty & Programs
 
Campus & Technology
 
Financial Flexibility
 
Engage TC Alumni & Friends