Food Academy believes that monitoring and evaluation of our programmes is essential to establish what is and isn’t working and change accordingly.  The fact that food diets are particularly difficult to track and report only makes this work more necessary. We don’t want just to hope that are work is effective but we work towards producing the the data to back this up.  This evidence-based approach is core to our business.

1. We put in place a robust evaluation and data collection framework with support from the Medical Research Council Human Nutrition and the National Institute of Economic Research (2011).  This framework included pre and post intervention questionnaires and validated semi-structured interviews carried out by Kings College London Nutrition and Dietetics students.

Impact: initial monitoring and evaluation findings
-1500 people completing 8-10 week workshops.  Near 100% participant satisfaction.  More than 300 external engagement events.
-improvement in ability to follow a simple recipe
-improvement in knife skills
-improvement in knowledge of food hygiene
-improvement in confidence in trying new foods.
-only small increase in participants’ cooking at home from scratch.

2. Implemented key recommendations of an in-depth study commissioned by the Department of Health’s Public Health Research Consortium (2014).  After the conclusion of this study, we worked closely with the study’s team leader to ensure the full implementation of its key recommendations, particularly by reducing the behavioural change messages being delivered in each class so that participants are more likely to process and adhere to the advice being given.

3. Implemented recommendations derived from detailed semi-structured interviews carried out by Kings College London students (2015), namely by the adoption of more ‘local’ recipes, tailored to reflect the tastes, budget and cultural traditions of the local community.

4. Initial findings from semi-structured interviews carried out on participants from 400 cooking and exercise workshops (2017), commissioned by Tesco, Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation and reaching an attendance of more than 2,800 mothers and 5,600 children suggested:

(a) mothers graduating from these workshops have been able to adopt and maintain healthy eating behaviour changes, from messages provided in workshops provided up to 1.5 years earlier.

(b) mothers that initially were not interested in physical exercise activities had a positive experience in the workshops and were now more interested in becoming less sedentary.

As a result, we developed a “Get Fit in the Kitchen” programme that incorporates cooking, physical activities and weight management. In this programme, course participants referred to us primarily through their GPs and after they have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes.  As a result, this intervention should generate key biomarkers that will help us to reduce the reliance in self-reporting data.

5. A GP referral programme for pre-diabetes and Queen Mary University’s research programmes on pregnant women with pre-eclampsia and metabolic risk factors, would allow our programme assessment to access clinical data and bio-markers that will reduce our dependency on unreliable self-reporting data.