For children from low-income families, school meals are a significant portion of daily caloric intake and hence an opportunity to address food insecurity. Many states have pursued legislation to institutionalize programs such as farm to school that aim to improve the quality of school meals and acceptance of healthy foods (fruits and vegetables) to address the interconnected problems of food insecurity, hunger, and diet-related diseases. Oregon established its Farm to School Education Grant Program to increase knowledge of and preference for fruits and vegetables among children in low-income school districts. This article outlines the reach of the education grants and examines their influence on children’s food choices and behaviors related to fruits and vegetables. Researchers analyzed Oregon Department of Education Farm to School Baseline and Progress Reports from school year 2015–2016 and conducted interviews with education grantees. Education grants reached more than 20,000 students in 30 districts, including 25 low-income districts. The most reported activities were nutrition and food-based lessons, school gardens, and farm field trips. Thematic results included students eating fruits and vegetables, trying new foods because of gardens, and learning about growing produce. Oregon’s Farm to School Education Grant Program reached the targeted low-income students, encouraged districts to implement educational activities, and allowed low-income children to learn about produce. Education is a core element of farm-to-school success and can help achieve the behavior change in youth needed for increased acceptance of school meals, better health outcomes, and improved food security.
Farm-to-School Education Grants Reach Low-Income Children and Encourage Them to Learn About Fruits and Vegetables
Assessing the Effectiveness of Oregon’s Farm-to-School Program in Providing Locally Grown, Nutritious Foods to Low-Income, Minority Students
In 2011, Oregon passed a Farm to School (F2S) bill which provided significant funding for F2S programs and explicitly prioritized F2S education grants for schools serving lower-income students. The aims of the study are to: 1) assess the effectiveness of Oregon’s F2S policy in increasing schools’ and districts’ perceived access … More
Strong nutrition standards for school meals, consistent with evidence-based recommendations, position children for optimal health and wellbeing. Strong science supports the link between lowering sodium intake and better health. This new issue brief from Healthy Eating Research examines the recent history of sodium standards for school meals. It highlights current sodium intake … More
In the next year, an estimated 1 in 4 children will experience food insecurity (up from 1 in 6, pre-pandemic), disproportionately impacting children in low-income households and racial/ethnic minorities. To mediate loss of school meals during closures and reduce COVID-19 exposure, Congress authorized the USDA to permit local education authorities … More