498 School Gardens: Do They Affect Children's Food Preferences and Eating Behaviors?

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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2133

Nutrition plays an important role in the life of a child because of the impact it has on growth, development, and the ability to learn. One part of proper nutrition is consumption of five fruits and vegetables a day. Currently, children eat an average of 2.5 fruits and vegetables a day, which is only half of the recommended servings. Education is needed to help increase consumption. School gardens are one education tool that can provide active hands-on activities in supportive environments. Through gardening, children learn not only what they should eat but also obtain a greater appreciation for how their food is grown. The main goals of this study were to provide teachers with a guide book for teaching nutrition through horticulture activities and school gardens and to test the effect of gardening on food preferences and eating behaviors of children. A curriculum guide, “Nutrition in the Garden”, was developed for teachers to use with their garden containing background information in horticulture and nutrition. Each lesson includes three to four related activities that can be completed with a garden or in the classroom. A pretest/posttest instrument developed by Tom Baranowski, Professor of Behavioral Science, Univ. of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was used to determine students' attitudes toward fruits and vegetables. A 24-hour recall food journal was used to determine eating behaviors. Results examine the effects of school gardens on nutritional attitudes and behaviors.

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