Lettuce Improve School Nutrition: Best Practices and Key Impacts of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program
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As national and global food systems have industrialized over the last several decades, many children no longer know where food comes from, how to prepare and cook it, or why some foods are healthier than others. American eating and exercise habits have actually resulted in children today having shorter life expectancies than their parents, for the first time in recent history. To address this issue, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) established the Farm to School Program (F2S) in 2010, as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA). The USDA F2S Program provides grants to school districts around the country, which have allowed for the implementation of programs that educate students about food, gardening, and nutrition, and introduce more fresh fruits and vegetables into school meals. This study investigates whether the USDA F2S Grant Program effectively empowers schools to increase the impact of existing F2S programming on students and communities. This is a qualitative analysis using interviews with F2S Coordinators, Food/Nutrition Services directors, and teachers from 13 school districts nationwide. It illustrates the wide variety of activities that students experience as a result of their school district’s F2S grant, such as nutrition and garden lessons, field trips to farms, cooking competitions, and partnerships with farmers’ markets, to name a few. The interviews reveal several positive impacts on students’ knowledge of food, gardening, and nutrition; willingness to try healthy foods; enjoyment of school; and food security. This research provides substantial evidence that the USDA F2S Grant Program allows schools to scale up F2S programming and increase their impact. In order for F2S to be part of the majority of American children’s education, the federal government needs to allocate more funding toward this program and others like it.
DepartmentPublic Policy Studies
CitationWien, Kasey (2017). Lettuce Improve School Nutrition: Best Practices and Key Impacts of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10161/13977.
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Rights for Collection: Undergraduate Honors Theses and Student papers