Date of Award
M.S. in Food and Nutrition Services
Nutrition and Hospitality Management
Fruit and vegetable intake for children in the United States is low, which puts them at risk for poor health in the future. The National School Lunch Program meal pattern and nutrition standards for participating schools include increased fruits and vegetables, compared to previous standards. Using a pretest-posttest design, this study examined the effect of a fruit and vegetable intervention on fruit and vegetable food selection and consumption in a rural, Appalachian Mississippi elementary school. A six-week intervention (nutrition education, cafeteria tastings, fruit and vegetables for home usage/backpack program) was implemented. The unannounced fruit and vegetable selection and waste measurements evaluated the identical menu served at both pre- and post-intervention. The menu included raw broccoli florets, raw grape tomatoes, baked French fries, raw red grapes, and canned/frozen peaches. Food selection was measured by calculating the proportion of students selecting each item. At both pre- and post-intervention, 10 servings of each item were weighed prior to lunch. Total served was calculated by multiplying the number of each item served by its average sample weight. All tray items not consumed were weighed, and total waste was calculated relative to amount served. Data were analyzed using a 2-proportion z-score test and paired t-test to compare school-level and school-level per person fruit and vegetable food selected and consumed from pre- to post-intervention. Pre- and post-intervention meals served/measured were 256 and 283, respectively. Only the proportion of students selecting peaches changed (pre, 33%; post, 43%; p=.01468). The percentage selection of fruit and vegetable menu components (mean ± standard deviation) did not significantly change from pre- (45.6 ± 29.8%) to post-intervention (50.9 ± 33.0%) [Mean change, -5.3%; 95% Confidence Interval (CI), -13.6 to 3.1%; t (3) = -1.994; p = .140]. Only French fries consumption increased (p=.00068), and only peach, broccoli, and grape tomato consumption decreased (p<.00001). School-level percentage consumption of fruit and vegetable menu components (mean ± standard deviation) did not significantly change from pre- (57.3 ± 14.4%) to post-intervention (36.2 ± 33.3%) [Mean change, -21.1%; 95% CI, -13.2 to 55.3%; t (4) = 1.709; p = .163]. School-level consumption per person was calculated by dividing the amount of fruit and vegetable components consumed at both pre- and post-intervention by dividing: 1) by the number of reimbursable lunches; and 2) by the number of children who selected that component. School-level (reimbursable lunch method) consumption per person of fruit and vegetable menu components (mean ± standard deviation) did not significantly change from pre- (19.3 ± 18.2g) to post-intervention (17.2 ± 16.9g) [Mean change, 2g; 95% CI, -8 to 12; t (4) = 0.566; p = .602]. School-level consumption per person (selection method) of fruit and vegetable menu components (mean ± standard deviation) did not significantly change from pre- (42.4 ± 42.0g) to post-intervention (27.2 ± 25.7g) [Mean change, 15g; 95% CI, -17 to 47; t (4) = 1.313; p = .259]. A fruit and vegetable intervention was not effective in changing most foods selected or consumed by elementary school children. The short duration of the intervention may have influenced this. More research is needed to determine how to best encourage fruit and vegetable selection and consumption among school children.
Weber, Michelle, "The Impact of a Fruit and Vegetable Intervention on School Cafeteria Fruit and Vegetable Selection and Consumption in a Rural, Appalachian Mississippi Elementary School" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1612.