The Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) Nutrition Education Program Impact Award is given to an individual or group for a nutrition education program, practice, or intervention that has resulted in documented changes in behavior. This year the award will be presented to Lynn Fredericks of FamilyCook Productions for Teen Battle Chef (TBC) during the 2020 SNEB Annual Conference held virtually on July 20 – 24.
Teen Battle Chef is a scalable evidence-based approach to adolescent dietary change for middle and high schools, out-of-school providers, and clinicians. The program, a hands-on approach to developing skills in nutrition, cooking, and leadership, has been used nationally for the last twelve years.
Participants learn plant-focused recipes, complete with ethnic background and nutrition profile. These recipe concepts translate home via activities using affordable, accessible ingredients. Young people work in teams to compete in weekly cooking battles, practicing/demonstrating their new skills. TBC is successful because it meets teens where they are developmentally, and creates a safe environment where students can express themselves. After a semester of skill development, the food-skilled youth leaders tackle Policy, System, and Environment impediments to healthy food choices and promote change in their community.
TBC has been extensively researched with 76% of participating youth achieving a healthy weight and over 90% of youth participants positively influenced the diet of their family and friends Academic and life skills. Additionally, participants have achieved higher graduation and attendance rates and improved SAT scores in reading and math. These students became self-directed, community-oriented, and job-ready.
Fredericks urged, “Encourage young people to take on some food responsibility for the family and explore learning to cook, shop on a budget and develop these skills. They will surprise you with what they are capable of and demonstrate great pride in being trusted to perform an important role for their family.”
FamilyCook Productions was created by Lynn Fredericks, a visionary leader and food journalist inspired by her children. Twenty-years ago she founded the non-profit organization to teach effective nutrition education curriculum for all ages. They use a train-the-trainer model to embed hands-on nutrition education in schools, community organizations, WIC Centers, hospitals, and other clinical settings. Their evidence-based and field-tested curricula have been replicated in over 350 sites across 30+ states, influencing over 310,000 youth and adults nationwide. Their work has received multiple awards from the New York City Department of Education and was named 2017 Public Health Leader of the Year by the New York Public Health Association.
Reflecting on the future direction of Teen Battle Chef Fredericks said, “There are fewer nutrition education interventions among high school adolescents that with other ages. Yet research has shown that developmentally youth are especially poised to adopt and sustain healthy behaviors, and our own study of TBC alumni up to 7 years post program has born out this evidence. We want to encourage more investment in this age group because not only can they reverse unhealthy food behavior patterns, but they are extremely effective influencers of their family and friends. Hence we see a radiating effect from working among adolescents that is just not achievable with other age groups.”