Online Program

Farm to school programs: Evaluating the development, perceptions, and benefits

Monday, November 4, 2013

Andrea Bontrager Yoder, Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Teresa Engel, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Madison, WI
Suzanne Gaulocher, MPH, MA, Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Prevention Resources, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, WI
Amanda Knitter, Supporting the Department of Health Services, Wisconsin Clearinghouse, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Janice Liebhart, MS, ABD, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Daniel McCarty, School of Health Care Professions, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI
Amy Meinen, MPH, RD, UW Collaborative Center for Health Equity, Wisconsin Obesity Prevention Network
Dale Schoeller, PhD, Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, WI
Sara Tedeschi, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Camilla Vargas, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Madison, WI
Douglas Wubben, RN, Froedtert Luthern Memorial Hospital, Madison, WI
Tara LaRowe, PhD, School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Introduction: The Centers for Disease Control identified increasing children's fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption through Farm to School (F2S) programs among strategies to ameliorate the high national prevalences of childhood overweight and obesity. We assessed associations between F2S and students' dietary knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors.

Methods: In the 2010-2011 school year, nine Wisconsin AmeriCorps F2S schools (with 0-3 prior years of F2S) participated in an evaluation of F2S programs; 1117 3rd- to 5th-graders participated. Students completed pre/post (fall/spring) FV Knowledge and Attitudes (KA) surveys, Food Frequency Questionnaires (FFQ), and four-day Lunch Tray Photo Observations (LTPO). Five schools submitted heights and weights. Outcomes were analyzed at baseline by prior years of F2S, and for school-year change.

Results: KA scores indicated increases in children's willingness to try new FV and in knowledge, both with increasing prior program exposure and across the year. Although there was no effect in overall dietary patterns (FFQ), lunch FV availability was favorably influenced by prior program years and increased across the year (LTPO). Additionally, there were increases in the percent of trays with at least one FV item and some consumption. BMI z-scores did not change overall from baseline to follow-up, but students with the most prior F2S had lower BMI z-scores.

Discussion: F2S programming improved mediators hypothesized to impact long-term FV consumption, and decreased the proportion of children lacking favorable FV behaviors at school lunch. Longer-term data are needed to further assess F2S programs' long-term impacts on children's total dietary behaviors and health.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify the childhood eating behaviors most impacted by Farm-to-School programming. Compare data analyses paradigms most sensitive to effects of Farm-to-School programming. Obtain supporting data to advocate for expanded Farm-to-School programming.

Keyword(s): Food and Nutrition, School-Based Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the primary evaluator of the data collected for the Wisconsin AmeriCorps Farm to School evaluation. Among my scientific interests is the development of lifestyle- and environmental-based strategies for overweight and obesity prevention.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3189.0: Nutrition and Children