The NOURISH program will serve about 2,100 students in three elementary schools located in food deserts in low-income, minority communities of Charlotte, NC. NOURISH engages parents, teachers and cafeteria staff in an integrative approach to promoting healthy eating habits at any early age. NOURISH equips these important adults in children’s lives with evidence-based strategies and consistent messages that optimize the chances that children will eat the nutritious options being served.

Topic area(s): Obesity Prevention and Control; Women, Children and Minorities


The goal of this project is to pilot test the NOURISH program in three elementary schools that serve primarily low-income, minority communities and document impact of the program on children’s fruit and vegetable consumption as part of a healthy school breakfast. Our ultimate goal is to reduce racial and socioeconomic disparities and to promote a foundation of healthy eating behaviors by increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables in elementary schools that serve primarily low-income, minority communities, to build capacity in the schools to support long-term sustainability, and to replicate the program throughout Charlotte and across the state.


In North Carolina, 26% of children live in poverty, 19% are obese, 25% live in a food insecure household, and less than one-third of elementary school children consume recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. As school meals are a key mechanism to increase children’s access to healthy food in underserved communities, the overall goal of NOURISH is to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy school breakfast.

NOURISH gives parents, teachers and cafeteria staff access to the latest evidence from research on how to help children develop healthy eating habits at an early age. This approach helps the important adults in children’s lives provide consistent messages at home and school so that children are more likely to eat the nutritious options being served. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention staff will be available to provide NOURISH training in new schools, and in collaboration with No Kid Hungry and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Child Nutrition Director.

NOURISH includes several components that can be tailored flexibly for each school:

1. Our team will work with school leaders to convene planning meetings with cafeteria staff, teachers and parents to learn about the unique school community.
2. Based on what we learn, school leaders can choose any or all of the following:

  • Professional development for cafeteria staff
  • Professional development for teachers (brief modules that can be incorporated in staff or grade-level meetings as schedules allow)
  • Technical assistance to facilitate use of new knowledge and skills
  • 3-part series for parents

3. Our team will evaluate all NOURISH components and track progress toward goals.


  •  Source: The Aetna Foundation
  • Dates of funding: January 15, 2014 – January 14, 2015


Principal Investigator: Molly DeMarco, PhD, MPH
Phone: (919) 966-9563


Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Universal Free Breakfast:

No Kid Hungry:

Diet Quality of Children Age 2-17 Years as Measured by the Healthy Eating Index-2010: