quantitative data were collected on the effects of the program on students’ fruit and vegetable consumption or on any other dietary outcomes. However, schools and school food-service staff reported that the program was positively received (Buzby et al., 2003), and there are plans to expand the program. A similar program was developed and pilot-tested on a national basis in the United Kingdom beginning in 2000. As far as the committee is aware, no quantitative evaluation data are available (United Kingdom Department of Health, 2002).

The Department of Defense’s Fresh Produce Program has been working with schools in several states to provide fresh produce for the school meal programs. Schools have also begun to incorporate produce from school gardens (Morris and Zidenberg-Cherr, 2002; Stone, 2002), school salad bars (USDA, 2002), and farmers’ markets (Misako and Fisher, 2002) into the school meal program in an effort to increase student participation and specifically to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption (Box 7-3). Evaluation of these and other similar programs is important in determining the effects of these changes on student dietary behaviors.

Next Steps

As discussed above, several large-scale school-based intervention studies demonstrate that changes in the school food environment can impact students’ dietary choices and improve the nutrient quality of their diets while at school.

Schools, school districts, and state educational agencies need to ensure that all meals served or sold in schools are in compliance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Additionally, schools should focus on improving

BOX 7-3

Edible Schoolyard

The Edible Schoolyard is a nonprofit program conducted at the Martin Luther King Junior Middle School in Berkeley, California, a public school for sixth- through eighth-graders. Students participate in all phases of the Seed to Table approach—planting vegetables, grains, and fruits; tending and harvesting the crops; preparing meals with the produce they have grown; and recycling the vegetable scraps back to the garden. This cooking and gardening program involves classroom lessons and hands-on experience in the garden and in the kitchen. The program’s goals include an enhanced understanding of the cycle of food production; the focus of evaluation efforts to date has been on ecoliteracy.

SOURCE: Edible Schoolyard, 2004.

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