Development and implementation of FRESH – a post-secondary nutrition education program incorporating population strategies, experiential learning and intersectoral partnerships

June I. Matthews, Anne V. Zok, Emily P.M. Quenneville, Paula D.N. Dworatzek

Abstract


OBJECTIVES: The FRESH (Food Resources and Education for Student Health) peer nutrition education program engages undergraduate and graduate students in experiential learning to improve the campus food and nutrition environment and promote healthy behaviours among university students.

TARGET POPULATION: University students in general, and graduate and undergraduate food and nutrition students as program designers and peer educators, respectively.

SETTING: Large university campus in southwestern Ontario.

INTERVENTION: A peer nutrition education program, utilizing multiple population strategies and intersectoral partnerships, was created by and for university students with faculty and food service personnel as mentors. The population health strategies employed were building awareness and program branding; developing personal skills through peer nutrition education and hands-on cooking demonstrations; and creating supportive environments through incentive programs for fruit and dairy as well as point-of-purchase menu labelling.

OUTCOMES: The program has reached students, staff and faculty through over 60 interactive FRESH displays and education sessions. Website and social media have also had a significant reach with over 4,000 website visits and 277 Facebook “likes”. FRESH has also improved the food environment for over 5,000 students in residence, e.g., 1,931 FRESH Fruit/Dairy Cards have been returned for free fruit/milk cartons. Graduate students in Foods and Nutrition continue to participate every year (cumulative n=60) in ongoing program development. Peer educators have developed enhanced leadership, public speaking and group facilitation skills, and the ability to creatively apply what they have learned in the classroom to new contexts.

CONCLUSION: Increased nutrition knowledge and an improved food environment could, over the long term, support improved university student health.


Keywords


Nutritional sciences/education; students; universities; health promotion; peer group

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.105.4481