Who makes up the “TLK Team?"

There are 3 roles that must be filled in order to make your TLK series a success: 

Host Coordinator: Responsibilities include understanding program requirements, recruiting TLK instructors (Nutrition Educator and Chef) and class participants, identifying a suitable location, completing necessary paperwork and accounting for granted funds, arranging for the purchase of groceries needed for each class, generating enthusiasm in the community for The Learning Kitchen, and attending lessons if possible. This person MUST have strong organizational and program management skills.

Nutrition Educator: The educator is responsible for delivering the program curriculum to participants. The nutrition educator should be well-versed in health and nutrition and capable of effectively teaching a group of participants. 

Chef: The chef is responsible for leading participants through the cooking portion of the curriculum. The chef does not need to be a professional, but professional chefs enhance the program quality.

Do the individuals filling the role of Nutrition Educator or Chef need to be trained professionals?

The Chef does not need to be a professional chef, but they do need to be very comfortable in the kitchen and able to lead a group while offering guidance around recipe preparation, cooking techniques, and food safety.

The Nutrition Educator does not need to be a Registered Dietitian or professional nutritionist, but they should be well-versed in health and nutrition, and capable of effectively teaching a group of participants. Nutrition Educators who have less health and nutrition related experience will need to spend more time preparing for each lesson. If you are unsure of whether someone is a good fit, please feel free to contact Sabiha at smujkic@hungerfreevt.org.

Can one person fill more than one role on the TLK team (Host, Nutrition Educator, Chef)?

Yes, one person can fill more than one role on the TLK team. Sometimes the Host will also be the Nutrition Educator, or the Nutrition Educator will also be the Chef, etc. As long as the person is capable of effectively fulfilling the requirements of each role they are filling, it is fine. Keep in mind, however, that it will be more time consuming for that one person if they are filling multiple roles, and it could potentially be more challenging to manage a group of participants effectively.

What sort of time commitment will running a series require?

Each TLK class lasts approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Additional prep time outside of class varies, but will typically require at least an extra hour or more. Nutrition Instructors and Host Coordinators should expect to commit a minimum of 3 hours each week for 6 weeks.

Questions About the Paperwork

When do I complete the Fidelity Tool evaluation? Who is this assessment for?

TLK instructors can use the Fidelity Tool to assess whether they are meeting best practices in delivering a TLK lesson. It is also a way for HFVT to communicate to TLK hosts and instructors what we are looking for in each series and allows us to gain consistency in the way TLK is implemented across the state. This consistency allows HFVT to better measure the efficacy of The Learning Kitchen program.

Anyone on the TLK team can complete the Fidelity Tool assessment,. It can be completed after every lesson, or just once or twice, as needed. Please reach out to Sabiha (smujkic@hungerfreevt.org) for support if you are having difficulty meeting these best practices. The Fidelity Tool is for your own use and does not need to be submitted with the rest of your paperwork. If someone from HFVT comes to visit a TLK class, we will also use the Fidelity Tool.

What should be included on the Expense Report Form?

The follow should be listed on the Expense Report Form:

  • List receipt totals for all grocery store expenses associated with your series (e.g., Shaws Supermarket: $32.22, Hannaford Supermarket: $13. 43, etc.)
  • Include the purchase of grocery store gift cards for lesson 5 (Young Adult and Adult series only)
  • Printing and shipping costs associated with the series

A receipt for each expenditure must be returned to us (originals or copies) in the envelope provided. It is helpful, though not necessary, if you write on each receipt which lesson or type of expenditure it is associated with (e.g., “lesson 1 groceries” or “9 gift cards,” etc.).

Do I have to make my own copies of some of the forms and evaluations?

You will need to make photocopies of:

  • The Subjective Evaluation Form, which you will give to participants at the end of the last lesson (along with the post-Food Behavior Checklist).
  • For Adult series, you will need to make photocopies of the SNAP-Ed Eligibility Form and have every person who takes part in your series (even for just one class) complete one.
  • In-class handouts for participants (found in the “Handouts” section of the curriculum).
  • Weekly take-home letters for parents (in Youth and Young Adult series)

Hunger Free Vermont will provide:

  • 24 copies of the Food Behavior Checklist for the pre– and post– surveys, which you should administer at the beginning of the first lesson, and then again at the end of the last lesson. If you have more than 12 participants in your series, please contact HFVT and request more copies. Please return leftover, unused copies to HFVT.
  • A single copy of all paperwork needed for your series

Questions About Funding

I received funding for 10 gift cards for the lesson 5 shopping trip (Adult and Young Adult series only), but I have ended up with only 8 participants attending on the day of the trip to the grocery store:

  • What should I do with the two extra gift cards?

Please do not send us leftover gift cards. We need to receive excess funds in the form of money (cash or check). We suggest waiting until lesson 5 (Adult and Young Adult series only) to purchase the gift cards so you purchase the correct number of cards. Remember to keep your receipt and include your purchase of the gift cards on your Expense Report Form.

  • Can I use leftover gift card money to buy extra groceries for our series participants?

No. Please return any funding that is leftover from the shopping trip in lesson 5 (Adult and Young Adult series only) to Hunger Free Vermont. Keep your receipt for the purchase of the gift cards, and include the gift card purchases on the Expense Report Form. Do not put leftover shopping trip money toward take-home groceries for participants, or toward in-class groceries.

  • If I have other outside funding, can I purchase gift cards worth more than $10 each?

No. The idea behind providing ten dollar gift cards is for participants to practice shopping for a healthful meal on a tight budget using the knowledge and skills they have gained in the previous 4 lessons.

If you would like to use outside funding to provide separate gift cards as a gift to participants at the end of a series, you could do this, but we would need you to complete our Proof of Outside Funding form. Please contact HFVT for more information.

If I am returning leftover funds, who do I make the check out to?

Checks should be made out to Hunger Free Vermont, not The Learning Kitchen.

I would like to provide participants with take-home groceries for participants using outside funding. Is this okay?

Absolutely! For our records, we need you to provide proof that the funding you are using to purchase take-home groceries is not leftover money from the food funds ($150 or $25, see next question below) that you received from HFVT. Any unused money leftover from the food funds ($150 or $25) provided to you by HFVT should be returned to HFVT in the form of cash or check (made out to Hunger Free Vermont). If you want to provide take-home groceries, please let HFVT know, and we will provide you with a Proof of Funding Form, which will satisfy our requirements.

Can our site prepare full-sized meals instead of sample-sized meals if we have outside funding?

Yes, you can prepare full-sized meals during your TKL classes, however, due to our funding structure and grant requirements, you will only receive $25 in food funds instead of $150 in food funds. The $25 is to cover the cost of food needed for TLK nutrition education activities (e.g., taste tests). You will have to secure outside funding to cover the entire cost of in-class meals if you choose to provide full-sized meals. Please let HFVT know if you have questions about this.

Can I use donations of food or harvest produce from a garden to supplement our TLK meals and still receive the full $150 food funds?

Yes. If you are receiving donations of FOOD (not money), or you are harvesting food from a garden for your series, you still qualify to receive the full $150 of food funds. Please return any unused food funds to HFVT.

Can the food funding ($150 or $25) be used to cover the cost of printing or shipping materials?

Yes, the food funds may be used to cover the cost of printing or shipping materials. Those expenditures must be documented on the Expense Report Form and receipts returned to HFVT.

Questions About Participants

How many participants do I need to recruit to run a series?

Aim to recruit 10-12 participants, since it is common for participation to drop, especially in Adult series. HFVT requires a minimum of 8 participants. Keep in mind that more than half of all participants in a series must be income eligible.

What do I do if I can’t recruit enough participants to meet the 8 person minimum?

If you are having a difficult time recruiting enough participants, please contact HFVT as soon as possible. HFVT can share recruitment strategies with you, connect you with another host who has overcome similar challenges, or discuss postponing or cancelling your series.

What do I do if participation drops below the 8 participant minimum?

If you’ve had regular attendance of 8 or more participants, but you have one class with lower participation, it’s not a concern. If regular attendance is below 8 participants, please contact HFVT so we can go over your options with you.

Some series that have had borderline participation have held a make-up class. Some series have used strategies to bring participation back up, such as calling or texting reminders to participants, helping overcome transportation difficulties, child care difficulties, etc. Depending on your situation, we can discuss what strategies might be reasonable and useful to you and your participants.

If participation levels remain low, a host can choose to cancel their series. For example, if a series is canceled after the second class, we ask that you return what is remaining of the food funds. You do not have to reimburse us for the money you spent on food during the first 2 lessons. We will pro-rate the stipend, and ask that you return the appropriate portion of the stipend money. If you’ve done 2 out of 6 lessons, you can keep 2/6th of the stipend ($100) and return to us the remaining $200. For Adult and Young Adult series, we would ask that you return the money we provided for the store tour gift cards ($10/participant) because those are not used until lesson 5. 

I’ve only had 4 participants regularly attending my series, but those 4 people are really benefiting from their experience with TLK and I don’t want to cancel the series. Can I continue to run the series to its completion?

If regular attendance is below 8 participants, please contact HFVT. Some hosts who have low participation do not want to cancel their series. If you choose to continue running your series, the following will occur:

Since the $150 of food funds is meant to cover the cost of food for 8 or more participants, we will pro-rate your food funds and ask you to return some of it. For example, if your series has had a regular attendance of about 4 people (instead of 8+), we would need you to return $75 (half) of the food funds you received. We want that $150 to serve the greatest number of participants possible and we will pass along the returned funds to another series. We also would need any leftover gift card money to be returned, in the form of a check (not as gift cards). So if only 4 people were present when you went on the shopping trip, and we gave you enough money for 10 people ($10 per person), we would need $60 returned. We do not need any of the instructor stipend returned to us, since preparing for a smaller class requires just as much time and effort as a larger class. We will be able to determine how your series should be pro-rated once we see your attendance sheet.

Can the whole family attend the classes?

Yes, this is definitely possible. Please contact HFVT to discuss what you have in mind so we can determine which curriculum is most appropriate (Adult, Young Adult, or Youth), and establish who is a TLK participant, and who is a visitor.

Questions About the Curriculum and Supporting Materials

What are the reinforcements? How should they be used?

HFVT provides reinforcement items for each Learning Kitchen participant. Examples of the types of reinforcement items that we have offered in the past include measuring cups, measuring spoons, recipe books, and recipe cards.

These items are meant to be used as a way to reinforce the messages learned during TLK lessons, and to celebrate successes participants have in reaching their cooking and healthy eating goals. The ring of Learning Kitchen recipe cards should be given during lesson 1 so participants can try TLK recipes at home using their recipe cards. Other reinforcement items can divided up and given each week to reinforce successes with Weekly Goals or Take-Home Challenges, or can be provided in a celebratory spirit during the last lesson.

Do I have to follow the curriculum exactly? How flexible is it?

The curriculum should be followed as much as possible while still responding to the needs of your individual group of participants. The curriculum is designed to promote behavior change by helping participants gain new knowledge and skills that are needed to adopt lifelong healthy eating habits. Because we know every group is different, we have built a certain amount of flexibility into the curriculum (e.g., flexible recipe ingredients, optional recipes, and the Activity Bank). In order for us to measure the efficacy of our program, we need TLK to be delivered in a consistent way throughout the state. However, we are very interested in your feedback and want to hear about what works and doesn’t work from your perspective. We take instructor and host feedback into account when we revise the curriculum, so let us know what you think in the Instructor Survey at the conclusion of your series!

What is the Activity Bank?

The Activity Bank is a group of extra 5-15 minute activities that can be incorporated into lessons if there is time, or they can be used as stand alone mini-lessons. There are 2-3 activities in the Activity Bank that are associated with each lesson. The curriculum will often prompt you to include a particular activity from the Activity Bank if you have time to fit it in. You may also swap out activities that are in the main curriculum with activities from the Activity Bank if this will better meet the learning needs of your group.

I keep running out of time and can’t finish the lessons. What should I do?

Some groups do have trouble making it through the entire lesson before they run out of time. Some strategies you can try include:

  • Be fully prepared before each class to avoid lulls and make transitions between activities smooth.
  • It saves time when the Nutrition Educator and Chef work together to coordinate and plan the cooking and nutrition education portions of each lesson.
  • Set up nutrition education activities and cooking stations in advance.

For some groups it is simply too much material to cover. The curriculum is designed to be flexible to best meet the needs of a given group. If you find you are running out of time:

  • Before class, identify the most important messages to impart with your particular group of participants. Use the lesson goals and objectives to help you with this. Prioritize activities that support these messages.
  • Before class, identify which information or activity you will skip if you are running short on time.
  • If your class does best with the more hands-on activities, prioritize these.
  • If participants are able to attend, consider holding a 7th class so you can still cover all of the material in the curriculum. Let HFVT know if you do this, and continue to take attendance on the Attendance Sheet for this 7th class.

Please give us feedback in the Instructor Survey if you continue to struggle with covering all of the material in each lesson so we can determine whether we need to adjust the curriculum in future revisions.