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LiveWell Colorado


Since 2010, LiveWell Colorado’s (LWC) School Food Initiative has partnered with Colorado school districts to transition from highly processed food to healthier meals made from scratch using whole, fresh ingredients. LWC offers districts on-site culinary training, as well as technical assistance for operations and marketing.




Since 2013, the Center has provided evaluation for each step of the School Food Initiative’s expansion, including pre- and post-assessments of additional school cohorts added each year. 

In 2015, Center researchers set out to discover whether students were actually eating the new healthier meals. For this, they developed a pilot plate-waste study to determine the feasibility of executing a full study at some point in the future.

In 2017, the Center will be measuring the program’s effect on the ability of a school district to incorporate fresh/whole ingredients into their menu cycle after 18 months in the program. Center research staff are also assisting in the development of tools for gathering student feedback and satisfaction, as well as meal consistency across sites. Measurement components that can be used in a guide for recipe development and production are also being developed. In addition, baseline data is being captured for the quantitative menu analysis (QMA), food procurement and student participation rates. 



Following evaluation in 2016, after participation in the program, it was found that school districts increased their use of fresh, whole ingredients by 10%.


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See what we discovered.



The above infographic represents evaluation results from five school districts sampled from the 13-district cohort participating from October 2014 to March 2016. The use of fresh/whole ingredients was measured at pre- and post- assessment using the QMA technique.

The infographic also represents results from a second study, a longitudinal assessment of menu changes and program sustainability in five other school districts that have been part of the program since 2013.

This study reveals that, after three years, the use of fresh/whole ingredients increased by 17%. An opportunity to collect this level of data on the districts allows Center staff to measure change in an environment that takes several years to shape.


A full summary of the findings can be viewed here.