Community kitchens for nutrition education

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Insufficient Evidence

Strategies with this rating have limited research documenting effects. These strategies need further research, often with stronger designs, to confirm effects.

Health Factors  
Decision Makers
Date last updated

Community kitchens are spaces where community members share knowledge, resources, and labor to prepare, cook, and consume food. Community kitchens often focus on nutrition education and food skills for low income participants experiencing food insecurity1. Such programs frequently use existing spaces that are not licensed or set up for entrepreneurial activities or commercial food processing.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Increased healthy food consumption

Potential Benefits

Our evidence rating is not based on these outcomes, but these benefits may also be possible:

  • Increased food security

  • Improved social skills

What does the research say about effectiveness?

There is insufficient evidence to determine whether community kitchens that offer nutrition education and food skill programs improve the nutritional intake of participants and their families1. Participating in community kitchen programming has been associated with enhanced food skills, improved community food security, and improved social interactions1, 2. A pilot study of a community kitchen-based nutrition and cooking instruction program for parents and children suggests increased enjoyment of cooking and decreased consumption of meals away from home3. Combining nutrition education with policies to improve food quality at homeless shelters and soup kitchens may help improve food choices and nutrition among participants who are homeless4. Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects. 

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated likely to decrease disparities.
Implementation Examples

Community kitchens can be hosted by faith-based organizations, schools, community or senior centers, businesses, or non-profit groups5. Implementation varies by community. Community kitchens can also serve as a venue for the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed), which supports nutrition education for individuals and families with low incomes6.

Implementation Resources

SRHD-Toolkit 2012 - Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD). Community kitchen toolkit: A guide for community organizations in Spokane, Washington. Spokane: Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD), Neighborhoods Matter; 2012.

Lowitt 2011 - Lowitt K. Community kitchen best practices toolkit: A guide for community organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador. Saint John's, NL: Food Security Network of Newfoundland and Labrador (FSN); 2011.

LHC-Rockeymoore 2014 - Rockeymoore M, Moscetti C, Fountain A. Rural childhood obesity prevention toolkit. Leadership for Healthy Communities (LHC), Center for Global Policy Solutions, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; 2014.


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1 Iacovou 2013 - Iacovou M, Pattieson DC, Truby H, Palermo C. Social health and nutrition impacts of community kitchens: A systematic review. Public Health Nutrition. 2013;16(3):535–43.

2 Fridman 2013 - Fridman J, Lenters L. Kitchen as food hub: Adaptive food systems governance in the city of Toronto. Local Environment. 2013;18(5):543–56.

3 Robson 2016 - Robson SM, Stough CO, Stark LJ. The impact of a pilot cooking intervention for parent-child dyads on the consumption of foods prepared away from home. Appetite. 2016;99:177-184.

4 Koh 2016 - Koh KA, Bharel M, Henderson DC. Nutrition for homeless populations: Shelters and soup kitchens as opportunities for intervention. Public Health Nutrition. 2016;19(7):1312-1314.

5 Kitchen Commons 2013 - Kitchen Commons. Community kitchen resource guide: How to access, use, and host community kitchens. Portland: Kitchen Commons; 2013.

6 USDA-SNAP-Ed - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). SNAP-Ed.