'Dinnertime' report highlights importance of cooking for low-income families

Share Our Strength was concerned that national dialogue around nutrition and obesity policy was leading to negative and inaccurate stereotypes about the eating and shopping habits of low-income Americans.

Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit organization whose goal is to end childhood hunger in America, was concerned that national dialogue around nutrition and obesity policy was leading to negative and inaccurate stereotypes about the eating and shopping habits of low-income Americans.

Share Our Strength wanted to ensure that when thought leaders spoke about food insecurity, food assistance programs, poverty, and obesity, they did it with a nuanced understanding of how low-income Americans met the challenge of putting meals on the table.

Share Our Strength engaged APCO Worldwide to conduct and promote research regarding healthy eating and cooking among low-income American families. The research would further highlight the need for and benefits of Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters program.

Two focus groups were held, and from their results, a questionnaire was developed that surveyed 1,500 low- and middle-income parents. Research consultancy APCO Insight led this project, working closely with APCO's health, hunger, and nutrition communications experts to turn the research findings into a compelling narrative. Infographics created by StudioAPCO, designed to be included on Share Our Strength's microsite for the "It's Dinnertime: A Report on Low-Income Families' Efforts to Plan, Shop for, and Cook Healthy Meals" report, fit seamlessly with Cooking Matters' brand, telling a cohesive visual story.

By demonstrating that low-income families prioritize healthy eating and are cooking dinner at home, the research challenged many of the pervasive myths about the eating habits of low-income Americans.

Results showed these families believe having healthy dinners is an important goal in life. But they struggle to make this a daily reality due to perceived higher costs and time investment, making them eager for tools that make preparing healthy meals easier and more affordable - as shown in Cooking Matters.

Media engagement around the release of the report was incredibly successful, with a number of outlets showcasing the findings.

Through its efforts, APCO helped Cooking Matters begin to achieve its goal to dispel negative stereotypes and make the findings of "It's Dinnertime" part of the national dialogue on hunger and obesity. There were more than 20,000 visits to the microsite and 1,300 downloads of the report.

Melissa Musiker is VP, food and nutrition policy, APCO.

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