Online Program

Springfield farm to preschool and families (F2P) program: Examining preschool children's fruit & vegetable consumption

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 5:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Elena Carbone, DrPH, RD, LDN, Department of Nutrition, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA
INTRODUCTION: This study was designed to determine the effectiveness of the Springfield F2P program in increasing preschool children's intake of fruits and vegetables. METHODS: Four preschool sites were purposefully selected to represent varying participation levels in F2P programs. Green beans, carrots, and peaches were targeted because they are commonly served at all sites. Primary data collection methods included: 1) plate waste evaluations before and after lunch; 2) observations of preschool children's meal time behaviors; 3) interviews with foodservice staff and teachers; and 4) online surveys with school administrators. RESULTS: Preliminary review of plate waste data revealed several trends: 1) children at all three F2P sites consumed more carrots than the control; 2) children at two F2P sites consumed more peaches than the control; and 3) children at the control site consumed more green beans than all three F2P sites. Emergent themes from observations and interviews included: techniques used to increase preschool children's fruit and vegetable intake; real and perceived benefits and challenges regarding participating in F2P programs; strategies to address challenges; and characteristics of successful F2P programs. Administrators' online surveys are ongoing. DISCUSSION: Although plate waste data revealed mixed results, examination of observational and interview data provide insight into the role of foodservice operations, classroom and environmental support, and the importance of these factors in preschool children's intake of fruits and vegetables. Online survey data will deepen our understanding about the types of management, support, and infrastructure needed to initiate and maintain a successful F2P program.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the characteristics that may contribute to a successful farm to preschool program. Identify key barriers and strategies to making sustainable dietary changes in preschool environments. Discuss how preschool organizations can change their food service culture to enhance preschool meals.

Keyword(s): Child Care, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I served as Principal Investigator on this farm-to-preschool study. I have also been the PI or co-PI of multiple federally funded grants focusing on community-based health promotion/disease prevention. I specially focus on nutrition education for multi-ethnic audiences (children and adults).
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.