Date of Publication


Project Team

Rebecca Nagle, PNP, DNP, Jennifer Laurent PhD, APRN, Amy Trubek, PhD


Cooking for Health: An Integrated Approach to Enhancing Food Agency

Author: Rebecca Nagle, MSN, APRN, PNP, DNP-c

Advisor: Dr Jennifer Laurent, PhD

Mentor: Dr Amy Trubek, PhD

Background: College students have poor food habits and are disproportionately affected by food insecurity. Food agency is one’s ability to provision and cook for themselves. Promotion of healthy eating and food agency for college students has shown to increase their food self-efficacy, improve health, and prevent obesity.

Purpose: Determine the effectiveness of an undergraduate class focused on cooking for health in improving student’s food agency, eating behaviors, and health.

Methods: Undergraduate students participated in a Cooking for Health course that introduced students to strategies to improve their food agency and develop a practice of cooking balanced, healthy meals. The pre and post Cooking and Food Provisioning Action Scale (CAFPAS) was used to measure self-perception of cooking skills and food preparation, attitudes towards cooking, self-efficacy around food related goals and individuals’ experience of the structures (social, physical, and economic environments) as barriers or supports. Themes and interconnections were analyzed.

Findings: Food agency increased in all students. Improved scores include food self-efficacy (17%), attitudes towards cooking (8.9%) and structures (11.2%). Time management and social responsibilities were identified as barriers to reaching food related goals. Students with cooking experience prior to the course had greater increases in food agency scores overall.

Conclusions: Food agency is an important aspect of improving nutritional outcomes. Coursework in culinary skills and health empowers people to improve their own eating behavior. Integrating this curriculum into higher education will be an important step in supporting student’s health and wellbeing on campus and preventing obesity.

Keywords: integrative nutrition, food agency, culinary medicine, nutrition, self-efficacy

Document Type