The UT Healthier Youth Recipe and Resource Booklet: A Successful Health Information Literacy Project

 

 

This summer, UT Health San Antonio Libraries, North East Independent School District (NEISD), the UT Teen Health Youth Leadership Council, and the UT Teen Health Clinic partnered to distribute UT Healthier Youth Recipe and Resource Booklets. This project was developed by librarian Karen Barton and funded with federal dollars through a National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM/SCR) Express Outreach Award. The booklets included nine healthy, kid-friendly recipes and pages listing online health information resources for kids and teens. A primary goal of the project was to increase awareness of NLM K-12 consumer health resources and promote healthy behaviors for youth in grades 3-12 who are at risk for poor health outcomes.  Another goal was to motivate youth to actually use the NLM K-12 health information resources and healthy recipes found in the booklet. From June 28-September 29, 2018, a total of 2,663 booklets were distributed directly to youth and to organizations that serve youth. There were over 750 more youth in more areas of the city reached than there were during the library’s NNLM/SCR-funded Youth Health Literacy Challenge project in 2017.

NEISD staff were instrumental in distributing 645 booklets to youth at four San Antonio Public Library (SAPL) branches during feeding times for their Summer Food Service Program. Additionally, 350 booklets were given to library staff at three other SAPL branches to distribute to youth. The UT Teen Health Clinic distributed 149 booklets and the UT Teen Health Youth Leadership Council, which consists of nearly 70 teens from across the city who promote sexual health to their peers, received training on online health information resources and were given 432 booklets to distribute—one each to keep for themselves and five each to distribute to peers. Overall, 19 organizations that serve youth participated in distributing the booklets and also included the YWCA, a middle school, high school, and afterschool and extracurricular programs.

Research by von Hippel, Powell, Downey, & Rowland (as cited in McLaughlin, 2012) shows that many American families lack access to healthy meals for their children during the summer and that children gain weight two to three times faster during summer months in comparison to the school year. Since 2016, NEISD has provided the Summer Feeding Program and chosen feeding sites based on the student family income at the neighboring school. In 2017, they served a total of 7,308 free meals for children and adults in San Antonio Public Library branches near schools that reported high numbers of low income students. Due to NEISD and Bexar County demographics and statistics, it is very likely that this project reached those most at risk for obesity, diabetes, and other diseases and conditions, and those most in need of health information and health literacy.

Project partners received great feedback that indicated that the project was making a difference in communities. A grandmother who is raising grandchildren told UT Health San Antonio Libraries staff that she was happy to have been given more recipe ideas through the booklet since, as she stated in jest, it seems as though all her family eats is rice and beans. NEISD staff at Brookhollow Library reported that several parents who had received a booklet had tried some of the recipes. There were 132 teens and parents or other chaperones trained on online health information resources at the UT Teen Health Youth Leadership Council Summit. All participants indicated on NNLM training session evaluation forms that they either “somewhat agree” or “strongly agree” that the training improved their ability to find useful online health information, indicating an improvement in health information literacy. Nearly all of them also expressed eagerness to use and tell others about the NLM resources. Additionally, Youth Leadership Council teens were surveyed later regarding their outreach and reported that some of their family members and peers had tried the recipes or were happy to receive a booklet due to the content. One teen reported, “All of my friends thought that these booklets were cool and excited to receive them.” Out of 66 teens, 22 responded to the second survey. The majority of the teens surveyed, 63.6% (14), reported that they had visited at least one health information website since their training at the summit and 77.3% (17) indicated that they had tried or planned to try a recipe found in the booklet.

For more information on this and other library outreach initiatives, feel free to contact Karen Barton at bartonkd@uthscsa.edu or Peg Seger at segerp@uthscsa.edu.