Objective: To assess the effectiveness of Wisconsin Farm to School (F2S) programs in increasing students' fruit and vegetable (FV) intake. Design: Quasi-experimental baseline and follow-up assessments: knowledge and attitudes survey, food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), and lunch tray photo observation. Setting: Wisconsin elementary schools: 1 urban and 8 rural. Participants: Children, grades 3-5 (n = 1,117; 53% male, 19% non-Caucasian). Intervention(s): Farm to School programming ranging from Harvest of the Month alone to comprehensive, including school garden, locally sourced produce in school meals, and classroom lessons. Main Outcome Measures: Knowledge, attitudes, exposure, liking, willingness; FFQ-derived (total), and photo-derived school lunch FV intake. Analysis: t tests and mixed modeling to assess baseline differences and academic-year change. Results: Higher willingness to try FV (+1%; P < .001) and knowledge of nutrition/agriculture (+1%; P < .001) (n = 888), and lunch FV availability (+6% to 17%; P <= .001) (n = 4,451 trays), both with increasing prior F2S program exposure and across the year. There was no effect on overall dietary patterns (FFQ; n = 305) but FV consumption increased among those with the lowest intakes (FFQ, baseline very low fruit intake, +135%, P < .001; photos: percentage of trays with no FV consumption for continuing programs decreased 3% to 10%, P <= .05). Conclusions and Implications: Farm to School programming improved mediators of FV consumption and decreased the proportion of children with unfavorable FV behaviors at school lunch. Longer-term data are needed to further assess F2S programs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Increasing children's fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption is an important goal of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) National School Lunch Program. Since 2012, the USDA's requirement that children select FVs at lunch as part of the reimbursable school meal has been met with concern and evidence of food waste. We compared elementary schoolchildren's FV selection, consumption , and waste before (10 school visits, 498 tray observations) and after (11 school visits, 944 tray observations) implementation of this requirement using validated dietary assessment measures. More children selected FVs in higher amounts when FVs were required compared with when they were optional (0.69 cups vs. 0.89 cups, p,0.001); however, consumption decreased slightly (0.51 cups vs. 0.45 cups, p50.01) and waste increased (0.25 cups vs. 0.39 cups, p,0.001) when FVs were required compared with when they were optional. More exposure to FVs in schools through programmatic efforts and in the home environment may help familiarize children with FV offerings and encourage consumption.
Public Health Reports 08/2015; 130(September - October 2015):453 - 457. · 1.55 Impact Factor
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