Healthy Today, Healthy Tomorrow


Low-income, African-American children who live in inner-city neighborhoods are at increased risk for childhood obesity, which puts them at greater risk for developing serious health conditions as adults. Research indicates that mothers are critical influences on children’s nutrition habits and practices during early childhood, and yet African-American mothers face multiple nutrition and food challenges. This project seeks to address the need for early interventions that can change health trajectories of African-American children. It will develop a health and nutrition curriculum and assess the effectiveness of the related workshops for low-income, African-American mothers of preschoolers who live in impoverished Chicago neighborhoods. This project draws from preliminary qualitative data that examined family and neighborhood factors that influenced child nutrition and health including the family and environmental challenges faced by mothers and the resilient strategies used to promote the nutritional health of their children. The culturally sensitive and contextually relevant curriculum will be delivered in a weekly workshop format to mothers participating in a Head Start program and will feature measurable goals and outcomes, interactive information segments, hands-on activities, and homework assignments. 

Research Team

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Students


  • Khara Harper


  • Marilyn Adibu
  • Anna Gottfryd
  • Giridhar Mohan
  • Shashenk Saxsena
  • Samantha Semrow
  • Arielle Smith

University of Illinois at Chicago Students

  • Amelia Topel-Harvey
  • Rebecca Levine


This project was funded through the Christopher Family Foundation Food and Family Program.


Robin L. Jarrett
Principal Investigator
Phone: 217-265-0659