Cultivating change: Evaluating a Spanish-language culinary & gardening program

February 1, 2024

Sunflowers in the garden

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  • In 2022, the Providence Community Teaching Kitchen (CTK) piloted a culturally responsive Spanish-language culinary nutrition and gardening program to serve more of the region's Spanish speakers, including those with diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Past research showed promising associations between CTK’s services and improved clinical outcomes among patients with diabetes, obesity, or social barriers.
  • A CORE evaluation using interviews, surveys, and the Photovoice method revealed positive impacts on participants and staff, as well as opportunities for growth and improvement.

Since launching in 2016, the Milwaukie, Oregon-based Providence Community Teaching Kitchen (CTK) has served the community with chronic disease education, hands-on cooking classes, food insecurity screening, access to healthy foods through its family market and Garden of Giving, and other supports. In 2022, the CTK launched a culturally responsive Spanish-language culinary nutrition and gardening pilot program with support from Providence Health Equity investment. The initiative sought to build on prior research showing promising associations between CTK’s services and improved clinical outcomes among higher-risk patients with diabetes and obesity and social barriers such as food insecurity.

With funding from the William E. and Thelma F. Houseman Foundation, the CTK engaged the Center for Outcomes Research and Education (CORE) to study the program's impacts and opportunities for improvement.

Read on to learn about CORE's approach to the evaluation and key findings, including the evaluation team's use of the Photovoice research method. Or read the summary of findings in English or Spanish (PDF downloads)

Elevating participant voices & bridging cultural gaps

CORE’s evaluation focused on three main questions:

  • Engagement: Did the program successfully engage the Spanish-speaking community, including those with prediabetes and diabetes?A garden table set with a salad, a beverage and a book
  • Experience: What were the experiences of staff and program participants?
  • Outcomes: What impact did participation have on participants’ knowledge, skills, and access related to the cultivation and consumption of culturally appropriate healthy foods, as well as diabetes outcomes? 

CORE used several approaches to answer those questions, including interviews, surveys, and Photovoice, a community-based participatory research method that leverages participant photographs to guide focus group discussions. Photovoice served as a cross-cultural communication tool, complementing CORE's traditional qualitative and quantitative methods and facilitating a deeper understanding and expression of participants' lived experiences.

Key findings from CORE's evaluation

The evaluation identified a variety of positive benefits for CTK participants and staff, including a sense of community, genuine enjoyment, increased knowledge and skills, positive impacts on health and wellbeing, and new perspectives.

Sense of community: Staff and participants felt comfortable, relaxed, and connected to others in the CTK's classes.  

"Staff did a great job of just trying to explain things in a way that was just culturally appropriate and [in] the Spanish language. I think the programs definitely helped to build a sense of community." – program participant