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.
Sarah Lineberger and J.M. Zajicek
Sarah E. Lineberger and Jayne M. Zajicek
Nutrition in the Garden is a garden program designed to help teachers integrate nutrition education into their classroom using a hands-on tool, the garden. The objectives of this research project were to 1) develop a garden activity guide to help teachers integrate nutrition education, specifically as it relates to fruit and vegetables, into their curricula, 2) evaluate whether students developed more positive attitudes towards fruit and vegetables by participating in the garden program, and 3) evaluate whether students developed better nutritional behavior by eating more fruit and vegetables after participating in the garden program. Students' nutritional attitudes regarding fruit and vegetables were measured with a fruit and vegetable preference questionnaire divided into three sections targeting vegetables, fruit, and fruit and vegetable snacks. Students' nutritional behaviors regarding fruit and vegetables were evaluated through 24-hour recall journals. After gardening, students' attitudes towards vegetables became significantly more positive. In contrast, no differences were detected in attitudes towards fruit. Students also had more positive attitudes towards fruit and vegetable snacks after gardening, with female students and younger students having the greatest improvement in snack attitude scores. Even though school gardening improved students' attitudes towards vegetables, fruit and vegetable consumption of students did not significantly improve due to gardening. Overall, the average daily fruit and vegetable consumption of the students participating in the Nutrition in the Garden study was 2.0 servings per day. This falls short of the estimated national average for daily fruit and vegetable consumption for this age group (3.4 servings) and extremely short of the nationally recommended 5.0 servings per day.
Shari Koch, Sarah Lineberger, and J.M. Zajicek
The Citrus Guide, Teaching Healthy Living Through Horticulture (Citrus Guide) is an activity guide designed to help teachers integrate nutrition education into their classrooms. The objectives of this research project were to: 1) help teachers integrate nutrition education, specifically as it relates to citrus fruit, into their curricula by using the Citrus Guide; and 2) evaluate whether students developed more positive attitudes towards citrus fruit by participating in activities from the Citrus Guide. The nutritional attitudes of 157 second through fifth grade students were measured with a citrus fruit preference questionnaire divided into two sections: one targeting citrus fruit and the other targeting citrus snacks. After participating in the activities, no differences were detected in attitudes towards citrus fruit. However, students did have more positive attitudes towards citrus snacks after participating in the activities, with female students and younger students having the greatest improvement in citrus snack attitude scores. Also, there was a direct positive correlation between more grapefruit and oranges consumed daily and students' attitudes towards citrus fruit.