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Teaching Notes

The focus of the sessions is to stimulate and nurture open intergenerational communication about how families select food, prepare food, and consume food. Professional(s) delivering the program are encouraged to:

  • elicit comments from all participants,
  • remind participants that they should listen and respond to each other’s views without judgment or harsh criticism,
  • affirm, where possible, comments that allude to family identity, pride, sense of unity, and cooperation/ teamwork, and
  • encourage participants to explore the practical applications of what they learn about effective communication and healthy eating to their own family situations. Continually ask: “How will you use this information at home?”

You will likely encounter some participants with poor communication skills. One way to highlight key communication principles is to conduct regular reviews of the “RECIPE for Good Communication” skills handout (from the first activity in Section 1).
R = Reflective Listening
E = Encouragement
C = Compromise and cooperation
“I” = “I” Messages
P = Practice
E = Encouragement

This will convey the point that working toward effective family communication is an ongoing process requiring constant attention and effort.

So that no one person dominates discussions during FRIDGE activities, it may be necessary to limit participation in some cases. One way to do this is to use a timer to give each member 1–2 minutes to make their point.

Encourage the sharing of information, ideas, perspectives, and experiences between as well as within families. Participants are likely to learn that other families face similar challenges in communicating effectively and making decisions that lead to eating more healthfully. The FRIDGE experience can provide families with a valuable source of social support in facing these challenges.

There will likely be times when participants will be resistant to talking, sharing, or participating in an activity, particularly when dealing with “tender” issues such as weight. In such cases, it may be useful to pause from moving ahead with the planned activity and ask a discussion-generating question such as: “What does it feel like to give up the things you like to eat?” Be aware, however, that some participants may feel more comfortable if asked to share their “thoughts and impressions” rather than their “feelings.”

Keep in mind that FRIDGE is not family therapy or counseling: The intent is not to try to engage families or individuals in a counseling process or to try to “fix” family problems.

The emphasis is on stimulating discussion about ways in which all family members can contribute to their family’s efforts to eat more healthfully.
Prior to each session’s delivery, educators will need to prepare by reviewing the session’s teaching plan, reproducing overheads, copying handouts and in some sessions collecting additional activity supplies.

If conducting the program as part of a residential educational program such as a week-end retreat, the “Take Out” activities can be integrated into scheduled program time.

If conducting the program in a setting that is on or near a farm, emphasize the farm-to-food connection where possible, e.g., by using the fresh fruits and vegetables in snacks and in food preparation activities (such as “Baking Now and Then”).