Farm to Elementary School Programming Increases Access to Fruits and Vegetables and Increases Their Consumption Among Those With Low Intake
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.
Available from: Lindsey Haynes-Maslow
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ABSTRACT: To examine characteristics potentially associated with school lunch fruit and vegetable waste, both overall and pre/post implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
Multi-year (2010-2013) cross-sectional study using pre- and post-meal digital photographs of students' school lunch trays to estimate fruit and vegetable availability and consumption. Fruit and vegetable items were categorized for factors suspected to impact waste: prior farm to school years, placement (main menu, salad bar), procurement (local, conventional), preparation (cooked, raw) and meal component (entrée, side, topping). Analyses to assess within-category differences in waste volume were performed using a Tobit model.
Wisconsin elementary schools participating in farm to school programmes, USA.
Children in third to fifth grade.
Many within-factor differences were detected overall and/or across time. Cooked fruits were wasted less than raw, while cooked vegetables were wasted more than raw. Where identified, locally sourced items were wasted more than conventionally sourced (+0·1 cups, P<0·0001) and salad bar items more than main menu items (+0·01 cups, P<0·0001). Increasing prior farm to school years decreased waste (-0·02 cups, P<0·0001). Items previously tried were wasted at the same volume whether reported as liked or not. New school lunch meal pattern requirement implementation did not uniformly impact fruit and vegetable waste across all categories and there was no change in waste for seven of fifteen assessed categories.
Many factors impact elementary students' school lunch waste. These factors may be helpful for school food-service authorities to consider when planning school menus.
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ABSTRACT: Children in the United States consume too few vegetables and fruits, consistent with the diets of adults and the foods available in the food supply. The farm-to-school movement seeks to improve both the supply of fruits and vegetables available to children and children’s diets. The State of South Carolina (SC) piloted a farm-to-school program with 4 program components including a partnership with local producers, SC-grown foods in the cafeteria, promotion of SC-grown foods, and a school garden. We used a quasi-experimental design to compare whether children in participating schools consumed more fruits and vegetables than children in matched comparison schools. In matched-controlled analyses children tasted and consumed more vegetables in farm-to-school schools than in comparison schools (0.11 servings, P <.10) but ate fewer fruits (−0.07 servings, P <.05). Parents reported that children asked more for fruits and vegetables at home after being exposed to farm-to-school programs. Farm-to-school programs may be a positive way to promote better diet as well as support regional food system development.
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