A Comparison of a Gardening and Nutrition Program with a Standard Nutrition Program in an Out-of-school Setting

in HortTechnology

After-school time is currently underutilized as a potential setting to promote healthy eating in children. Two programs, a standard nutrition program titled Professor Popcorn (PP) and a gardening and nutrition program using lessons from Junior Master Gardener: Health and Nutrition from the Garden (JMG), were compared to investigate their influence on nutrition knowledge, improving fruit and vegetable preference, and improving self-efficacy in gardening and eating fruit and vegetables in an out-of-school setting. Third through fifth graders participated in an after summer-school program (n = 11 in PP; n = 7 in JMG), and fourth graders participated in JMG (n = 11) during the fall after school. Knowledge, preference, and self-efficacy measures were obtained at the beginning and end of the program. Neither program improved nutrition knowledge, nor were there any differences between the PP and JMG mean difference scores. The programs did not improve fruit and vegetable preference or fruit and vegetable consumption self-efficacy. There was, however, a change in gardening self-efficacy for the summer JMG group compared with that of the fall JMG group. Gardening self-efficacy of the summer JMG group increased (P < 0.10), whereas that of the fall JMG group decreased (P < 0.05). Further investigations should examine the activities of gardening occurring at different times throughout the growing season, and the role that seasons have on the outcomes due to a garden-enhanced nutrition program. In addition, researchers should examine the amount of classroom time vs. gardening time that is needed to make a garden-enhanced nutrition program more effective in an out-of-school learning setting.

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To whom reprint requests should be addressed; cshoemak@ksu.edu

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