Newswise — The Nutrition Education Program Impact Award, to be presented annually by SNEB, is given to an individual or group for a nutrition education program, practice or intervention that has resulted in documented changes in behavior. This year’s recipient is the Illinois Junior Chefs Program.

The Illinois Junior Chefs program is a statewide, hands-on culinary and nutrition education program implemented by the University of Illinois Office of Extension and Outreach. IJC is taught over five two-hour lessons, each of which includes nutrition education, hands-on cooking, and healthy food tastings. Each lesson includes nutrition education focused on a particular food group paired with a recipe that uses a cooking skill taught during the time. At the end of each lesson, the participants get to taste the food they have prepared.

Class lessons include:

  • Food Safety, Measuring, and MyPlate
  • Choose Whole Grains
  • I’ll Eat These Veggies
  • Fantastic Fruits
  • Go Lean with Protein and Calcium-Rich Food

One of IJC’s participants has taken the skills and applied them at home, according to one mother’s testimony. The participant uses her cutting skills to chop broccoli for salad, slice a lemon for her dad’s tea and chops tomatoes, onions and peppers to make salsa at home. She has also made the family dinner with one of the program’s recipes.

Data for 1,256 participants has been entered so far, indicating a strong positive impact the program is having on its participants with changes in f­­ruit and vegetable preferences, cooking attitudes, cooking behaviors and self-efficacy for selecting and eating healthy foods.


The Nutrition Education Program Impact Award recognizes an individual or group for a nutrition education program or practice that has resulted in documented changes in behavior. Candidates evaluated by the level of program impact, quality of design, innovativeness and usefulness for nutrition educators. Photos and information on past award recipients is online at