Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Social Work

Document Type



Many youth in foster care have experienced maltreatment at the hands of their parents/caregivers. This can lead to struggles with building positive relationships with others throughout their lifetimes, including familial, platonic, and romantic relationships. Having a solid support system has been shown to be beneficial in alleviating these negative outcomes. Foster families have a unique role in guiding the child through the transitions of care and becoming this necessary support system during a vulnerable period in the child’s life. There is a need for more interventions that focus on building these relationships to help children continue to thrive.

One activity that can aid families in relationship building is cooking/eating together. Food is an integral part of culture, and it is a way of expressing who a person is and sharing that with someone else. Family mealtimes open the door for communication and connection, which is especially important for building those relationships among individuals that do not have prior biological connections.

This study examines the feasibility of conducting a new cooking-based intervention (The Food & Family Project) that has the goal of encouraging family connectedness within foster families. During the process of enacting this iteration of The Food & Family Project, the researcher realized that adoptive and blended families often have the same lack of biological connection that foster families do and chose to incorporate them into the study as well.

This intervention includes a six-week cooking course, interviews, surveys (The Family Time & Routines Index and the The Inventory of Parent & Peer Attachment—Revised), and video reviews of sections of the cooking classes. These components are detailed in the methodology section.

Through the six families that participated in the study, findings revealed that The Food & Family Project is a feasible intervention, however, there were areas with room for improvement, including recruitment and the chosen surveys. This intervention shows promise in encouraging family connectedness, and this first step will guide future versions of this research.



Committee Chair

Page, Timothy F.

Available for download on Thursday, April 01, 2027

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