The shift from “muffins” to mangoes: child, family, and organizational impacts of an after-school snack program
Bham, Salma A.
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In 2009 alarming rates of childhood obesity resulted in the Government of Ontario launching a province-wide initiative through the Ministry of Health Promotion & Sport. This study focused on Eastview Boys and Girls Club (Eastview unit) in Oshawa, Ontario and examined immediate impacts of an after-school snack program involving close to 100-children daily. Data collection included key informant interviews (n=7); one focus group interview with parents (n=8); three interactive children‟s sessions, and document review. Findings identified changes in children‟s eating behaviours (e.g., willingness to try new foods) and shifts in staff attitudes (e.g., role-modelling). Facilitators included staff commitment, strong partnerships, and previous program accreditation. Organizational barriers included gaps in nutrition-related knowledge/skills of staff and insufficient program-specific training and resources. Recommendations call for building capacities at individual-, organizational- and community-levels to strengthen the nutritional component of the after-school initiative. Future research should evaluate long-term outcomes of the snack program.