The rural counties of Lincoln, East Linn, and rural
Benton lie in the northwest part of Oregon. Economic
recovery from the 2008 recession has been slow, and
unemployment figures have fallen below pre-recession
rates. The area's poverty has had direct effects on their
children. Childhood obesity is a common problem in the
region, particularly for children ages 11 and 13 years of
age. Local data from 2017 shows that 30% of children in
Linn County qualified as obese, over 25% of children in
Benton County, and nearly 23% of children in Lincoln
County identified as obese.
As rural areas tend to have fewer health, community, and
financial resources, it is difficult for local families
to access services that address obesity. In the years
leading up to the project, the number of physical
education (PE) classes declined, and nutrition programs
were nonexistent, both of which are contributing factors
to the area's high childhood obesity rates.
View this video to see how CATCH is being used at the
Samaritan Early Learning Center, Neighbors for Kids, and
Pioneer Elementary School.
Each county developed its own Childhood Obesity
Partnership that merged into one consortium to provide
regionally-informed input. As part of the current funding
cycle, CATCH programming expanded to include culinary
education. Because of that, the program name changed to
Coast to Cascades C.H.E.F. (Culinary Health Education and
Fitness) program. Each county is still assigned a
coordinator who serves as a liaison between project
management, the consortium, and individual sites.
The current cycle of funding expands CATCH programming to
11 additional sites to include middle schools and to
implement culinary education classes throughout Lincoln,
East Linn, and rural Benton counties.
The consortium still offers the following CATCH programs
through their C.H.E.F. program:
for Schools (in-school, K-8) equips schools
with materials to teach healthy behaviors in the
classroom, PE classes, the cafeteria, and the home
Kids Club (afterschool, K-8) provides
nutrition manuals to include scripted teaching lessons
for instructors and also includes games, songs,
nutritional facts, recipes, handouts, and letters home
in both English and Spanish
Early Childhood (preschool) includes fun,
hands-on activities, such as classroom-based gardening
and lively dance/music activities
CATCH programs include the following components:
CATCH PE Activity Kits – a
guidebook and activity box that holds 300+ cards with
cardio, aerobic games, muscular strength, endurance,
flexibility, and cool-down activity ideas.
CATCH Kids Club Nutrition Manual –
features lessons incorporating stories, rhymes, games,
and songs. Handouts, nutritional facts, posters, and
food label information are part of the teaching aids.
Letters to parents written in English and Spanish
reinforce positive behavior at home.
Community Events – outreach events
held annually at every CATCH site or school district.
Physical Activity – the course
requires 150 minutes of physical activity per week from
each participant. Activities such as CATCH physical
activity breaks, school recess, and PE classes count
toward the minutes.
Tasting Tables – offers samples of
fruit or vegetable that are prepared in different ways
and voted on by the kids. The food changes every month
and is often used in school lunchrooms, CATCH snack
time, and during special events.
The C.H.E.F. culinary education portion includes the
Matters – Founded by Share Our
Strength, Cooking Matters classes are designed to
provide hands-on cooking experiences for youth, children
and families. The main goal is to help low-income
families learn how to eat healthier for less cost.
C.H.E.F. partners continue to see overall
success in reaching the program's objectives and in positively impacting children's health. Although the
programs are mid-way through the second evaluation,
results include the following:
More school cafeterias and afterschool programs have
started offering healthier food options.
To date in the current cycle, 3,487 children have
been directly impacted through CATCH initiatives.
With the addition of 11 new schools, the number of
CATCH sites in Lincoln, East Linn, and rural Benton
Counties has increased to 40.
Increase from 42% to 55% in the total amount of time
that CATCH participants spent in moderate to vigorous
physical activity, surpassing the 50% recommended rate
from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Offered 24 culinary education courses across the
region, reaching 436 adult and children participants.
Trained 61 volunteers and medical students to deliver
culinary education courses.
Partner organization and readiness was one of the
most significant barriers in the first year of the
current funding cycle. Of the 11 sites identified to
become CATCH sites in the grant application, only 7 were
prepared to begin with training and implementation. Staff
changes, retirements, or additional programs being added
to their schedules were among the main reasons.
The capacity to deliver the original number of
cooking courses resulted in a revision to the work plan.
It was decided that the staffing and schedule of partner
agencies could feasibly accomplish 69 classes, rather
than 77. However, the original projected number of
participants could still be attained.
C.H.E.F partners admit that one of their program's
greatest accomplishments has been the support from local
communities. They offer some advice to others interested
in starting their own programs:
Be willing to supply all equipment and provide as
training as possible for program staff and school
leaders. Train a champion who can serve as an internal
advocate for nutrition education, physical activity,
and healthy living, and ensures the continuation of the
Pursue the training of more than one CATCH champion
at each site in order to mitigate leadership attrition
due to staff turnover or relocation within the district.
Leverage the support from regional leaders and
community health advocates to coordinate community
activities aimed at preventing childhood obesity.
Coordinate and enhance health-promoting activities in
your community and schools to carry on the momentum
started by CATCH programs.
Continue to submit equipment requests to local
funders and apply for new federal grant opportunities
that would enhance your program.
Partnerships brought a high level of success with
existing programs that have proven track records of
reaching specific populations and community classes.
Collaboration with Western
University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Pacific
Northwest to train medical students in delivery of
cooking classes achieves both efficacy in class delivery
for participants as well as expands medical student's
experience with lifestyle medicine.
Go, Slow, Whoa concepts were implemented during
school and afterschool CATCH programs.
An intensive study of the physical
activity aspect of the CATCH program was conducted by an
evaluation assistant, Daniel Roberson, a graduate student
from Oregon State University. The study was successfully
completed in 2014 and the thesis is available upon
To view more details about the culinary health education
programs utilized, visit:
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information
about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The
programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s
needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep
in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.