What is FRIDGE?
The FRIDGE program is designed to help families have food-related conversations that are non-adversarial and that honor children as “partners” in making positive food-related behavior changes.
The simple goal is to make family communication about food easier, more fun, and more effective for family members of all ages.
The FRIDGE program is designed to be conducted with a group of 4–8 families, with each participating family represented by one or more children 8–15 years of age, their parents, and, if available, their grandparents or other relatives in caregiving roles.
There are three sections to the FRIDGE curriculum:
- Section 1: Enhancing family communication about food
- Section 2: Learning together about food and nutrition
- Section 3: Working as a team to improve family eating practices
There are 4–6 activities in each section. Each of these sections requires 3–6 hours, depending on the needs and interests of the program participants and the extent to which program facilitators modify the activities. The overall program is estimated to take 16–20 hours to conduct.
Complete curriculum as a PDF (8.7 MB)
In the pilot study of the program, several strategies for recruiting participants proved to be effective.
- Emphasize that this is both a nutrition education program and a family strengthening program. It is not only about learning to eat more healthfully, but doing so as a family.
- Offer food (snack or a meal); perhaps even weave a cooking activity into the program.
- Partner with organizations that could recruit local families, such as family centers.
- Note that the FRIDGE program was approved as a national SNAP-Ed curriculum and received the 2010 American Dietetic Association Program of Excellence Award.
Most nutrition education programs are designed for mono¬generational audiences without the active participation of other family members. The emphasis tends to be on providing accurate, timely, and usable information. Certainly, there is no substitute for giving people accurate information about food and nutrition. However, there is an inherent limitation in working with mono-generational audiences. Participants often face barriers at home when trying to apply what they learn; other family members who have not gone through the educational work-shop experience are not likely to share the attitudinal changes and enthusiasm for changing behavior exhibited by those who did participate. Further, the communication channels necessary to share information and work collaboratively to change family eating practices might not exist.
An alternative, age-integrated program approach, such as the one used in FRIDGE, aims to provide children, parents, and grand¬parents from the same families with joint opportunities to learn about, discuss, and act upon the same nutrition and health information. Emphasis is placed on helping family members to process this information in the context of their family lives — in terms of the real world issues that apply to them, such as limited budgets for food, difﬁcult work and play schedules, diverse food preferences, food allergies, etc. The ultimate goal is to help families to work together to make better food choices and adopt more healthful eating practices at home.