Can addressing food literacy across the life cycle improve the health of vulnerable populations? A case study approach
Health Promotion Journal of Australia
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Healthway BHP Western Australia State Government Telethon
© 2020 Australian Health Promotion Association Issue addressed: Food literacy programs aim to improve an individual's knowledge and skills in the planning, management, selection, preparation and eating of healthy foods. Unhealthy dietary patterns across the life cycle are associated with an increased risk of chronic disease. Foodbank WA’s Healthy Food for All® (HFFA) team has made addressing health inequity a priority, by enhancing food literacy skills of vulnerable people across the lifespan. Methods: A case study approach was utilised to explore HFFA’s suite of evidence-based food literacy programs: Food Sensations® (FS) for Parents (of 0-5 year olds), FS for Schools (kindergarten to Year 12), Fuel Your Future (adolescents 12-18 years), and FS for Adults (FSA) (18 years and over). These programs are contextualised to meet the needs of vulnerable groups at all life stages. Results: In the last decade the HFFA team have delivered 5047 food literacy sessions to over 62 000 vulnerable Western Australians. Evaluation results demonstrate the FS programs are successful at improving vulnerable people's food literacy skills and dietary behaviours. For example, over 70% of participants make at least one positive food behaviour change after attending FSA. Conclusions: By targeting vulnerable people of all ages, HFFA’s food literacy programs provide multiple opportunities for intervention, to enhance health behaviours, and therefore reduce risk of chronic disease. So What?: Food literacy programs are one effective strategy that is complementary in helping to address the health inequities in Australia. Government and broader community investment in food literacy initiatives is vital to improving the health outcomes of vulnerable populations.