Common Threads’ Healthy Cooking and Nutrition Education for Kids and Families

submission by CommonThreads

About Your Application

Organization(s) name(s):

Common Threads

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Describe Your Organization(s)

Non-profit organization

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Other (please specify below):

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


In partnership with schools and select community organizations, Common Threads delivers our proven healthy cooking and nutrition education programs to 3rd-8th graders, their families, and their teachers in underserved areas in six major U.S. cities.

In one to three sentences, please describe your proposal.


We are seeking $100,000 in support of our hands-on, in- and out-of-school healthy cooking and nutrition education for underserved kids, their families, and their teachers. Our programs bring healthy food to children in need, while also teaching them how to prepare nutritious, affordable meals and snacks on their own. During the 2015-2016 school year, we will partner with 15 Los Angeles schools to implement our proven programming, thereby reaching a total of 3,649 individuals.

Where will you be working? Please be specific (e.g. Third Street Middle School; Boyle Heights; LA County).

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles (countywide)

City of Los Angeles (citywide)


Other (please specify below):

How do you plan to use these resources to make change? (check all that apply)

Conduct research

Engage residents and stakeholders

Implement a pilot or new project

Expand a pilot or program

Mobilize for systems change

Advocate with policymakers and leaders

Implement and track policy

Other (please specify below):

How will your proposal improve the following “Live” metrics? (check all that apply)

Access to healthy food

Healthcare access

Exposure to air toxins

Number of households below the self-sufficiency index

Percent of imported water

Obesity rates

Housing affordability

Rates of homelessness

Walk/bike/transit score

Acres and miles of polluted waterways

Rates of mental illness

Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (Dream Metric)

Percentage of LA communities that are resilient (Dream Metric)

Percentage of residents receiving coordinated healthcare services (Dream Metric)

Percentage of tree canopy cover (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the healthiest place to live.


Common Threads will make Los Angeles the healthiest place to live by providing underserved kids (grades 3-8), their families, and their teaches with hands-on, in- and out-of-school cooking and nutrition education that brings healthy food to children in need, while also improving nutrition knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. As the Institute of Medicine recommends fighting childhood obesity in part by making schools "the heart of health," and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends up to 50 hours per year per child of nutrition education, we work with schools to incorporate as many of our programs as possible into the school's schedule and according to their needs, thereby increasing individual students' exposure to nutrition education while fostering a community-wide culture of health.

During the 2015-16 school year, we will partner with 15 LA schools to expand our programming, reaching 1,000 more kids, parents/guardians, and teachers than we did during the previous year. Specifically, we will engage up to 3,649 individuals in up to 140 distinct program sessions (for a total of over 33,200 program hours) and will provide these individuals with up to 27,442 healthy meals and snacks they have prepared themselves. Because food insecurity and other factors related to poverty can contribute to obesity, we specifically target schools where at least 80% of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch.

In our programs, participants cook and prepare healthy, culturally-diverse meals and snacks from scratch with affordable ingredients and an emphasis on whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and less fat and sodium – and thereby not only receive nutritious food during our programs, but also gain the skills and knowledge needed to cook and eat healthy on their own. Programs include: a Cooking Skills and World Cuisine afterschool program; an in-school, teacher-led Small Bites nutrition education program and Garden Classes; Parent Workshops; family Grocery Store Tours; Family and Teacher Cooking Classes; and Healthy Teacher Trainings.

Our programmatic approach has resulted in measurable outcomes that create a strong foundation for a future of improved personal health. Indeed, our school year 2013-14 evaluation results showed that, of students with room to improve, 81% improved their nutrition knowledge, 43% increased their preference for healthy food, and 51% of students increased their vegetable consumption.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.


We evaluate our programs through annual internal pre- and post-surveys of student and parent participants. In addition to measuring the impact of our programs on participants’ nutrition and cooking knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, these surveys also capture data on dose delivered and received, fidelity, and context. Due to the large numbers of students participating in our programming across the country, we randomly chose schools to participate in our school year 2015-16 survey to achieve a national sample of 750 Small Bite student participants and 750 chef-led program participants. Previous experience shows that this number is adequately powered to detect the effect of our programming. At the end of each school year, we analyze the survey data, matching pre- and post-surveys to determine net change.

Teachers also complete surveys after completing our Healthy Teacher Training and are able to provide feedback on and suggestions for the training.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

Other (please specify below):

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Does the Common Threads Healthy Cooking & Nutrition Education for Kids and Families program occur, at least in part, in school cafeterias? And does the program offer evening meals for kids and their parents to sit down and eat together in their school's cafeteria (perhaps as part of the Cooking Skills and World Cuisine after-school program)? This arrangement would be great for hardworking parents (especially single parents) who could pick up their kids at school in the 5 to 6 pm period, after the students have stayed at their school following the end of regular classes to engage in after-school enrichment classes, art or other creative pursuits, supervised homework, or physical recreation activities in the relative safety of the school environment -- in the process avoiding the downsides of 'latchkey' hours and the high costs of daycare to their parents.

Wherever possible, this kind of Family ‘Shared @ School Supper’ program should continue over the summer to help slow the regrettable ‘Summer Slide’ in nutrition. An expansion of USDA’s Summer Food Service Program and its budget to include kids and their parents for at least one meal a day would be useful.

As reported in the HuffPost Summer Slide article by Common Threads’ founder, “When students are in school, they engage in physical daily education classes and many also play team sports and have additional outdoor time to take advantage of.” All of this would make our schools the Heart of Health and of a range of other comprehensive socio-economic benefits!

by GregoryWright
6 months ago

I apologize that I am just now seeing this comment. Great points. Common Threads offers a variety of programs including in and after school. Some are for students, parents, and entire families. We also have grocery store tours, garden classes, teacher trainings, and more. Common Threads also works with various community partners and summer programs to extend the curriculum to students during the vital summer months.

I hope this answers your questions but please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

Thank you,
Alison Strelitz
Common Threads

by astrelitz
5 months ago

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Submission Began
Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Submission Ended
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
at 07:00 PM UTC

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Voting Began
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Voting Ended
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
at 08:00 PM UTC

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Winner Announced
Tuesday, December 08, 2015