Food Services + Cooking + Gardening + Education

Categories

Categories associated with best practice:

  • Community
  • Individual
  • Organization
  • PP-icon1
  • Children (ages 6-12) icon
  • Community/ Neighbourhood
  • Education and literacy
  • Elementary School Icon 1
  • English
  • Healthy child development
  • Personal health practices and coping skills

Overview

This intervention was created by a community collaborative comprised of representatives from a mid-sized school district in California, a group dedicated to teaching sustainable living and a private foundation. Implemented with a cohort of elementary students in grades four and five who were followed in subsequent years, it featured several components – school food services which offered healthy menu items made from locally-grown, sustainable ingredients; hands-on instruction in both cooking and gardening; and links between these activities and the academic curriculum. Methods: Analytic observational design. Results: After controlling for family sociodemographic background, students most exposed to the intervention increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables by nearly 0.5 cups (1 standard serving) while students least exposed decreased their consumption by 0.3 cups (p<.05). Students most exposed to the programming also showed a significantly greater increase in preference for fruit and green leafy vegetables, compared to students least exposed to the programming (p<.05). Implications: These findings suggest that a comprehensive school district intervention that includes regular attendance and hands-on learning in garden and cooking classrooms, in conjunction with a changed school meal program matched to nutrition, environment, gardening, and cooking lessons, can be effective in increasing preference for a variety of fresh produce and F&V consumption among 4th to 6th grade children in public school.

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