Health Nuts’ intention is to provide hands-on nutrition education to elementary-aged students, one public school at a time. Being able to reach more schools is an indication of success because that would signify that we have secured substantial donations from our grocery partners and that we have had full enrollment (25 students/class) at our previous school endeavors. Therefore, we would track the number of students that attend each class, the number of schools in which we operate, pounds of food donations, and the number of students that we can subsidize enrollment costs to measure our success.
How We Will Measure Our Impact
In order to measure our impact, we want to view four factors that pertain to our core mission of bringing nutrition education to elementary students. Our first measure of impact will be calculating the average amount of hours of nutrition education provided to each student a year. Given that each student likely won’t attend both classes every week, we want to get specific and detailed and track each student’s time with Health Nuts fluctuates, if at all. Ideally, we would like to see a consistent trend with each student, which would result in higher hours of nutrition education. This would be a great way to analyze their enrollment if it correlates at all to our weekly programs, and if there is any way we can increase, or maintain students' time learning about nutrition.
The second way we want to measure our impact is by calculating our retention rate with the school. Our goal is to be asked back by schools as an afternoon program to establish a relationship not only with the school and as an afterschool program, but also as a way to create meaningful relationships with the students to encourage a more impactful experience with nutrition and develop their learning even further. No matter the direction of our retention rate, we would be able to see our impact on schools, or a lack thereof. We think that the retention rate would be a great and meaningful way to measure our impact.
We want to view student enrollment as a third way to measure our impact. As an afterschool program, we want to appeal to both parents and students as a way to create a meaningful two hours to spend time after school lets out. Our impact, in tandem with the retention rate with schools, can be measured by how many students enroll in our classes. Our mission to teach nutrition education can best be measured through how many students we are able to reach, and impact through the window of time we have after school.
Lastly, we want to measure our impact through our provided nutrition journals to students. These journals are a way to not only encourage students to eat better, but also as a way to encourage them to be more mindful of what they eat, and the impact food can have on their health. Our goal is for students to create a thoughtful and thorough nutrition journal to the best of their abilities. Our impact can only be measured so much by numbers, that we wanted to make sure we actually get through to the students enrolled in our afterschool program and hope that they take what they learn with us outside of our classroom, and apply it to their day-to-day lives.
What data can be collected to indicate changes/success? (Indicators)
To prove that we are making a difference through our nutrition education curriculum, we will be tracking the journal entries of the students (parents can help). Students are intended to go home and make the recipe suggestions, and to document any new fruits/vegetables/healthy ingredients they try. These entries will help us see if the students are making the recipes we give them and are influencing their parents to buy the foods that we teach about through our program.
On a quantitative level, we will be tracking how many total sessions each participant attends. If a student only attends once, this will be seen as a failure. Considering students on average receive less than 8 hours annually of nutrition education (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019), participants would need to attend at least two Health Nuts sessions to make their learnings through the non-profit more substantial (in a time sense) than what they would receive in the average classroom. We will be measuring student retention rates, hoping that each student that enrolls in our program once, will come back subsequent times throughout the school year. The more time students are exposed to nutrition education, the more likely it is that they see a decreased risk for health complications throughout their lifetime.
How will you determine success? Can you identify a SROI (Social Return on Investment)?
Health Nuts’ greatest added value, that wouldn’t be reflected in the financials, would be increased awareness of proper nutrition for both students and caregivers. By arousing excitement in elementary kids about the health attributes of specific foods, we are impacting society by promoting sustainable and healthy lifestyles. In the long-run and on a broad scale, increased nutrition education is conducive to lower obesity rates and other health issues; in turn, this reduces health care costs and promotes longevity. With every hour of nutrition education that we teach, we are increasing the dismal classroom statistics that exist today. Additionally, with Health Nuts being an after-school program, we are mitigating the stress of caregivers not being able to retrieve their children right after school hours or not knowing how to effectively occupy their children’s time.
What data is available to you as indicators of your success? Show the baseline data you will be using.
Baseline data will be obtained from a variety of state and federal government sources. TheColorado Department of Education releases a variety of nutrition education data. This will establish a baseline as to what the current state of nutrition education is, specifically in Colorado. Since this is the main area we are focusing on, it is critical we understand this academic environment and the amount of nutrition education students receive.LivingWell Colorado also documents the current state of nutrition education and nutrition practices in households that could be utilized. To get national health statistics, the CDC is a reputable resource that publishes big-picture data. Additionally, the USDA publishes many guidelines and statistics regarding nutrition education that will help in our project development. We will also be using information published by The Wallace Foundation to establish baseline data regarding after-school education. This foundation tracked after-school programs from multiple cities across the country. They were able to show that on average, an after-school program would enroll around 193 participants. Furthermore, each program would operate around 3.7 hours per day for 181 days per year (Grossman, Lind, Hayes, McMaken, & Gersick, 2009).
With regards to Health Nuts, we will be tracking how children’s attitudes towards trying new foods shift throughout the course of an academic year. This qualitative measurement will be accompanied along with qualitative comparisons from the baseline data we collected. For example, we will track our enrollments and compare it with that of the national average (193 participants) and also more Colorado specific statistics.
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