Food skills education and low-income adults' healthy food choices

Background: The Cooking Matters food skills education program equips low-income families with the skills and knowledge to shop for and cook healthy meals within budget and time constraints.

Aims: To explore whether participation in Cooking Matters is associated with healthier food choices using a 6-item scale, comprised of a variety of food categories.

Methods: Cooking Matters participants (n = 332) and a comparison group (n = 336) completed surveys at baseline, 3-, and 6-month follow-up.

Results: Cooking Matters participants experienced greater improvements in healthy choices overall (p < 0.0001) and for each of the six underlying items at 3 month follow-up. Improvements were sustained at 6-month follow-up overall and for all categories, except low-fat milk (p = 0.1168).

Discussion: Participation in Cooking Matters was associated with improvements in overall healthy food choices across a variety of food groups and maintained at 6-month follow-up. Enabling healthy food choices is an important step toward improved diet quality.