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Increasing Children's Exposure to and Preferences for Fruits and Vegetables at Summer Food Service Program Sites

      Objective

      To pilot an intervention to increase children's exposure to and preferences for fruits and vegetables (FV) at Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sites. Target audience is low-income children attending SFSP sites in North Carolina.

      Theory, Prior Research, Rationale

      The SFSP is a federal nutrition program that provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to children ages 18 and younger in low-income areas during the summer. The USDA recommends that SFSP sites use fun and interesting nutrition education activities to get children excited about trying new, healthy items on the menu.

      Description

      An eight-session series of fun, interactive nutrition education activities at two SFSP sites in Chapel Hill, NC was provided. Through a partnership with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools SFSP, special FVs (e.g. sugar snap peas, colored cauliflower) were served in addition to the regular lunch menu during six of the sessions. Nutrition education activities took place immediately prior to lunch and were designed to get children excited about eating FVs and tasting the featured items.

      Evaluation

      Pre- and post-surveys were administered measuring exposure to and preferences for the featured FVs. Rating forms were completed after each featured item was served. Over 125 children attended at least one session. Eighty-five percent tasted at least one FV. Thirty-three percent tasted at least one FV they had never tried before, with 83% of those children liking at least one of the new items they tried.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Combining nutrition education with the introduction of FVs at SFSP sites may be a way to encourage children to try new FVs, and increase their preferences for them.

      Funding

      Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education

      Supplementary data