Kids at schools with Farm to School programs eat more fruits and vegetables, a new study suggests.
The Farm to School program was established in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to boost the amount of local foods schools serve.
Programs typically consist of local sourcing of food, learning activities such as school gardens, and integrated nutrition activities, according to a news release.
Researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences found that students at schools with a Farm to School program ate 37% more vegetables and 11% more fruit than the average student consumed before their school adopted the program, according to the release. The study is published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, according to the release.
“These results indicate that sourcing produce locally has a positive impact on the consumption of vegetables and fruits,” Jaclyn Kropp, a UF/IFAS associate professor of food and resource economics and lead author of the study, said in the release. “Further research is needed to determine if it is the quality of the products, product freshness or simply promotion of these products in the school cafeterias that is driving the behavior changes.”
During the study, researchers reviewed how much food students at six elementary schools in Alachua County, Fla., threw away and compared that to the original serving amounts, according to the release. Food waste was measured before and after the schools put in place the Farm to School Program.
Local foods sourced in the Farm to School program in the schools in the study were mainly raw vegetables, including leafy greens, cucumbers and peppers along with strawberries and blueberries.