Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Farm-to-school programs motivate school food service professionals

08.03.2010
Potential to improve children's diets without burdening school finances while helping local farmers

During the school day, children eat roughly one-third of their nutritional needs while at school. Besides lunch, breakfast and snacks may be served, providing ample opportunities for obesity-prevention strategies by offering more nutritious food.

With economical constraints interfering with schools to provide children with increased amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, a study in the March/April issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior examines how farm-to-school programs have the potential to improve children's diets by providing locally grown produce without burdening the school's finances.

Researchers at the Michigan State University, Lansing, examined why farmers, school food service professionals (SFSP), and food distributors participate in farm-to-school programs and how they characterize the opportunities and challenges to school food procurement from local farmers. Researchers identified three major reasons why SFSP participate in farm-to-school programs including (1) ''The students like it,'' (2) ''The price is right,'' and (3) ''We're helping our local farmer.''

There were three areas that emerged from analysis of the SFSP's interviews about students/children participation in the farm-to-school programs which included: (1) quality, (2) influence of food service staff, and (3) relationships with farmers. The findings were best described by following two SFSP's interviews:

"A lot of our teachers go to apple orchards so it was neat to have them served for lunch [ . . . ] so we had that link, cafeteria, classroom, field trip. I think they might have said something to the kids, and then the kids get a little more attention so they're like huh, maybe I should eat this apple instead of just letting it sit on the tray.''

''The kids just love [farmer]. He's one of the coolest guys in the world. And if we're able to do that, it becomes a cool food and kids like cool foods, you know. They don't want things that aren't cool.''

A "trickle-down effect" was found for SFSP being proud to serve high-quality products that students were excited to eat.

The researchers found the farm-to-school programs benefited both the school and farmer. SFSP reported that the lower price for produce was attributed to a shortened supply chain. SFSP were able to buy produce that is not typically offered in school cafeterias such as asparagus, blue potatoes, Asian pears, etc.

Schools are an attractive market for the farmer because "perfect" products are not always needed. For example, a SFSP commented:

"I will take the outsize apples. [Farmer] will bring me bushels of apples, the tiny ones, and that's great for our kindergarteners, our first-graders. We sort them out and the big ones children here [middle school] love so I think we're a great market for off-size. We don't need the perfect-sized apple. That's great for retail, that's what sells. But in schools, we can take the carrots that have ''s'' [shape] in them because we'll clean them, we'll take the skin off, and then we'll chop them up and it doesn't matter to us. They'll end up in the homemade soup that day, or on top of salad. So for us, we're a good market and I don't think farmers realize that.''

This research is being presented at a time when budgets are tight and there is a huge need for nutrition education in schools. The farm-to-school program may help to promote healthful eating and improve our school food programs.

Writing in the article, the authors state, "Relationships with farmers and vendor characteristics emerged as important variables that may have contributed to the benefits that these food service professionals expressed. This study suggests a relationship between locally grown food and potential benefits such as increased consumption of fruits and vegetables among children. However, much more research is needed to better understand how these and other variables influence children's short and long-term dietary habits so that supportive programs and policies can be developed. This study also emphasizes the need for SFSPs to understand the advantages and disadvantages of buying locally grown food from different intermediaries as well as their own motivations (eg, improving children's fruit and vegetable intake) and interest in local food procurement. More research is needed on how different types of intermediaries influence the benefits attributed to farm-to-school programs. Finally, whether buying locally grown food directly from a farmer or through a food distributor, connecting children and food service staff to the source of their food— where and how it was grown and who grew it—appears to be a key mediator between locally grown fruits and vegetables and children's consumption of these food items. Therefore, as schools increasingly look to distributors for their local food needs, educational materials that retain or create a link from farms to schools will be important."

The article is "Farm-to-School Programs: Perspectives of School Food Service Professionals" by Betty T. Izumi, PhD, MPH, RD; Katherine Alaimo, PhD; Michael W. Hamm, PhD. It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 42, Issue 2, (March/April 2010) published by Elsevier.

Lynelle Korte | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.elsevier.com

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>