EAT.RIGHT.NOW. (ERN) is a multi-faceted health and nutrition education outreach program for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) eligible students enrolled in The School District of Philadelphia. Children from households earning a gross income of <130% of poverty qualify for SNAP benefits. The program is one component of the larger Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Tracks (PA TRACKS) initiative, which seeks to improve food choices and encourage physical activity among school-age children in the state.
During the 2012-2013 school year (SY), The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) administered a nutrition and physical activity-related assembly programming called Jump with Jill to SNAP-Ed eligible schools. Over 100 live Jump with Jill performances are delivered each school year to high need schools throughout Philadelphia. Teachers are provided with follow-up materials to continue the impact of the show in the classroom.
“A strategic decision was made to focus the student evaluation using only one grade [5th grade]” (Dahl et al. 62) to provide a large sample size and simplify analysis. “The assembly evaluation assessed the impact of assembly performances on the following factors:
- Students’ knowledge of key nutrition and physical activity messages.
- Students’ reactions to the assemblies and teachers’ perceptions of their students’ reactions;
- Student and teacher satisfaction with the assemblies; and
- Teachers’ interest in, and use of, the assembly supplemental materials” (62).
Pre- and post-surveys for Jump with Jill included “both nutrition and physical activity” (63) questions because Jump with Jill was the only assembly on the ERN roster to cover both topics. Written surveys for Jump with Jill “were completed by 127 [5th grade] students…. Within this sample, 62 (48.8%) were females and 65 (51.2%) were males. The majority of students were Black (n=76, 59.8%), followed by White (n=23, 18.1%), multiracial (n=11, 8.7%), Asian (n=10, 7.9%) and Hispanic (n=7, 5.5%)” (72). “…[E]lectronic surveys were completed by 204 teachers” (73). Fifth grade teachers represented only 8.6% of the teachers completing the survey.
- “Teachers indicated a positive perception of the Jump with Jill assembly” (74). Compared to other assemblies on the ERN roster, “Jump with Jill scored highest on entertainment value…” (81). “Teachers found the assembly to be excellent in entertainment value (79.4%) and student engagement (73.2%)” (74). Comments from teachers included praising Jump with Jill for “great direct instruction” (80) and student involvement (80). Jump with Jill had the highest teacher survey completion rate of other assemblies on the ERN roster (73).
- In studies where actual behavior is difficult to measure (for example, 5th graders in inner-city Philadelphia), research relies on indicators of behavioral such as emotional affect. Used frequently in consumer research, emotional affect is used to measure likelihood of buying, owning, and using a product. In nutrition research, enjoyment is linked to increased likelihood of regular participation in a behavior (Gao, Podlog, and Huang 123). According to teachers, students’ emotional affect was reported as “very excited (92.4%), very happy (92.4%),… and not at all bored (94.4%) (Dahl et al. 74). By comparison, another ERN nutrition assembly rated students quite differently – only 12% of students were very excited, 14% were very happy, and 45.7% were very bored (65)!
- The positive emotional affect scores for Jump with Jill are meaningful measurements for likelihood of healthy behaviors. Researchers have examined high intensity emotional experiences as having an increased influence on behavior, so strong it can even overwhelm cognitive processing (Davidson, Scherer, and Goldsmith 9). Nutrition education in the form of a rock show is a strategic choice to empower audiences to action.
- “…[T]eacher feedback further indicated that students’ responded well to the music and CD tracks provided with the assembly performance” (81). “The majority (n=171, 83.8%) of teachers used the supplemental assembly lessons in their classrooms, where 55.6% of teachers (n=95) taught the lessons,… 68.7% of teachers (n=117) assigned the assembly handouts in class or as homework. Of the 33 teachers who did not use the supplemental assembly lessons, the main reason was lack of time (n=17, 51.5%)” (70).
- Students who watched the Jump with Jill assembly “responded with more specific examples about why they should eat healthy foods, as well as kinds of healthy and unhealthy foods. For example, students who viewed Jump with Jill provided examples of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bread, milk, cheese, and breakfast, and referenced MyPlate portions of fruits and vegetables” (79). Students who viewed another ERN nutrition assembly spoke about foods in “more general food categories” (79). Jump with Jill attributes this to the use of highly-visual food props integrated into the show’s presentation.
- Of students who viewed Jump with Jill, more than half (60.8%) of responses about learning something new referred to healthy eating, “such as why they should eat healthy foods more often, portions of the plate that should be filled with fruits and vegetables, and the importance of eating breakfast” (78). Another ERN nutrition assembly took a different approach, instead almost half of student responses (44%) to learning something new referred to unhealthy eating, including “kinds of unhealthy foods” (74) and “health problems related to eating a poor diet” (79). Jump with Jill attributes this finding to the strategic use of healthy anthems that celebrate healthy food choices.
- “Evaluators could not adequately draw strong conclusions on the knowledge changes from pre- to post-surveys due to the high level of knowledge pre-assembly” (83).
Full Study Citation Information
Dahl, A., Halkyard, K., Benjamin, G., & Wolford, T. (2013). Eat. Right. Now. FY 2013 Evaluation Report. The School District of Philadelphia Office of Research and Evaluation, Philadelphia, PA.
View the full report.
View two-page summary.