Philadelphia's Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Out-of-School Time (OST) Initiative led by the Health Promotion Council developed 10 Healthy Living Guidelines for Out-of-School Time Programs to support a healthy environment for Philadelphia youth in 200 OST programs. Health Promotion Council participated in an enhanced cross-site evaluation with the national Robert Wood Johnson Foundation evaluator during the final year of funding to learn more about food and nutrition in the OST setting, and to share data and engage the OST food providers.
A plate waste study measured the quantity and nutrition composition of meals served to youth compared to food not eaten. Staff interviews measured program adherence to the Healthy Living Guidelines, along with other facets of the food environment in 7 Philadelphia OST programs. Online surveys were sent to OST programs. Food providers (sponsors) were interviewed using Appreciative Inquiry methodology to gain insight into systems, goals, and common interests.
Aggregated plate waste data from 7 observations showed an average of 42% of the food uneaten after meal/snack consumption, and high sodium content of the meals. Twenty-nine staff at OST programs completed the online survey, and 3 food sponsors were interviewed. Recommendations to improve the food included increasing variety, offering more salads, fruits and vegetables, and culturally appropriate foods. Food sponsor interviews showed a variety of meal production, distribution, service and training systems, and an interest in working together. The food sponsors met to review the data and prioritized common goals. They continue to work together to improve systems and meals for food service.
A food sponsors work group formed and continues as a result of sharing enhanced cross-site data about food in OST settings. Food sponsors continue to work together to improve systems and nutritional offerings for Philadelphia OST programs.