Integrating Nutrition and Parenting Practices for Young Families: A Report of Two Statewide Projects
Grogan, Soneeta, Brink, Muriel S., Yerka, Bettie Lee, Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences
This study focuses on results from two pilot nutrition projects, which integrated parenting concepts into nutrition education experiences. Strategies involved (I) focusing parenting content on the related nutrition project outcomes; (2) using learner-centered educational strategies; and (3) modeling desirable parent- child interactions. Staff development content for educators included (1) incorporating parenting concepts into nutrition-related learning; (2) modeling parent- child interactions; and (3) influencing the learners to carry out activities with their children.
This article focuses on the results from two pilot projects that incorporated parenting concepts into nutrition education opportunities designed for limited resource families with young children. It includes (1) brief descriptions of both projects; (2) considerations for successfully integrating parenting content into nutrition education programs; (3) effective strategies for teaching parenting concepts within nutrition education programs; (4) summary of the results; (5) processes that contributed to the outcomes; and (6) the rationale for the importance of the projects.
Proposals were developed in 1992. Collaborators included Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) faculty and off-campus educators, NY State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Supplemental Feeding Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) staff, and local WIC staff.
From 1993-1996, the collaborators planned, implemented, and evaluated Building Blocks for Toddlers and Healthy Families and two USDA Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES)funded nutrition projects, using parenting education best practices (Brown, 1998). Both projects addressed that the "neediest" WIC clientele differed in their specific target populations and implementation sites.
The Healthy Families (HF) project participants were pregnant or lactating WIC clients and children of WIC clients through age five. This project was implemented in Delaware, Oneida, and Herkimer counties.
The Building Blocks for Toddlers (BBT) project targeted first-time parents of toddler WIC clients and was implemented in Broome and Tioga counties and in Queens, New York City. The shared objectives of the two projects were that
CCE and the NYSDOH/WIC increase interagency cooperation related to nutrition education.
Graduates report or demonstrate (a) increased knowledge of nutrition, prenatal practices, and infant and toddler practices that contribute to nutritionally sound diets and healthy lifestyles, and (b) increased knowledge of parenting practices that contribute to the development of healthy children.
Graduates report or demonstrate improved behaviors related to diet and lifestyles for themselves and their families in food budgeting and buying; food preparation; food storage, safety, and sanitation; and diet quality.
Both BBT and HF integrated resource management and parenting content with contributions from faculty in Cornell University's Division of Nutritional Sciences, Department of Policy Analysis and Management, and Department of Human Development in the College of Human Ecology. Essential collaborators included a Cornell extension program administrator, an extension assistant for the BBT project, NYSDOH/WIC state and regional staff, off-campus extension educators, and WIC county directors. Paraprofessional educators conducted the nutrition education sessions with the HF project participants. Paraprofessional educators and parent interns delivered the program to BBT project participants.
The initial program delivery approach for BBT was for participants to engage in group learning, supplemented with individualized learning. However, individualized in-home learning with periodic group sessions soon became the primary mode due to timing and transportation difficulties. For HF, individualized in-home learning was the predominant mode because the target areas were rural without access to public transportation. …