Maternal and Child Health Nutrition Faculty and Trainees Work Collaboratively with Community Partners to Assess Afterschool Nutrition Environments
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe a collaborative service learning experience (SLE) which was part of the degree requirements of the Public Health Nutrition Graduate Program at the University of Tennessee. The SLE was collaboratively developed by the University of Tennessee’s maternal and child health (MCH) nutrition leadership education and training (NLET) Program Director and the Knox County Health Department’s healthy weight program manager. Description The SLE was a semester long project that included instructional time and fieldwork. Coursework focused on development of a community nutrition needs assessment, how to interpret and analyze assessment data, and how to use assessment data for program planning and policy development. Fieldwork consisted of interacting with an interprofessional team, assessing the nutrition environment at two afterschool sites, conducting a plate waste study to determine the amount of food consumed by children at the sites’ dinner meals, interpreting and analyzing data, and developing and presenting recommendations for improvement. Assessment Trainees successfully completed all aspects of the SLE. They completed a community needs assessment of the neighborhoods surrounding the two afterschool program sites, conducted nutrition environment audits, including meal observations, and measured and analyzed plate waste from dinner meals served at the sites. Using the data gathered and collected, they prepared suggestions for nutrition environment improvements and policy development for community partners. Conclusion The SLE allowed trainees to develop MCH competencies and professional skills required in public health nutrition, while providing valuable data that subsequently was used to establish nutrition-related policies and interventions.
KeywordsChild nutrition Afterschool programs Plate waste Collaboration/partnerships
This work was funded by Maternal and Child Health Bureau and Tennessee Department of Health.
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