A collaborative extension garden-based school nutrition program: Measuring the interests, behaviors, and self-efficacy of third grade youth participants and their families
Childhood obesity is a growing issue in Indiana and the United States as a whole. One step in reducing caloric intake is increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables. Eat Your Way to Better Health (EYWTBH) was a garden-based school nutrition program offered to third grade classrooms throughout the state of Indiana by the Cooperative Extension Service. The program aimed to increase youth fruit and vegetable consumption by implementing the Junior Master Gardener® curriculum along with supplementary materials and a school garden. The objectives of this study were to describe the relationships that may exist between youth fruit and vegetable consumption, personal variables such as self-efficacy, and environmental variables such as fruit and vegetable availability, as well as possible differences between pre- and post-program data in these variables. Data were collected from Spring 2009 to Fall 2010 using two different versions of the EYWTBH questionnaire, and analyzed by the author to explore the relationships and differences that may have been present. Three conclusions were made from the data analyses. The first conclusion was that there were 3 variables that had relationships with the dependent variable of youth post-program fruit and vegetable consumption. The 3 variables were youth pre-program fruit and vegetable consumption, youth post-program healthy food choice self-efficacy, and family post-program fruit and vegetable consumption. The second conclusion was that there was a statistically significant increase in youth healthy food choice self-efficacy upon completion of the EYWTBH program. The third conclusion was that youth reported an increase in diversity of fruit and vegetable consumption upon completion of the EYWTBH program. Implications for practice are developing the EYWTBH curriculum further to emphasize the dangers of junk food, increasing the volunteer training to maximize program implementation, and increasing parent/guardian involvement to maximize the education potential of EYWTBH. Suggestions for future research are implementation of the EYWTBH program in a quasi-experimental or experimental design so that impact claims can be made from the data analyses, considering additional theoretical frameworks such as the Theory of Planned Behavior, and replicating the study in different contexts to confirm findings.^
Kathryn S. Orvis, Purdue University, Neil A. Knobloch, Purdue University.
Education, Agricultural|Education, Elementary|Education, Social Sciences