UC Calfresh encourages fruit and vegetable consumption among students in Tulare and Kings Counties
The IssueResearch indicates that repeated exposure to a variety of healthy foods including fruits and vegetables in different forms can increase their acceptance, preference, and consumption. To expose students to healthy foods, increase students’ willingness to try healthy foods, and encourage them to ask for these foods at home, the UC CalFresh nutrition education program in Tulare and Kings Counties of California conduct food tasting activities and recipe sharing across schools and after-school settings.
What Has ANR Done?During 2017-18 school year, the UC CalFresh nutrition education program was implemented in schools and after school settings in Tulare and Kings Counties to capture students’ exposure and response to foods presented during food tasting. Kindergarten and elementary school students received nutrition education, followed by tasting the target food and the target food recipe. Teachers completed Youth Taste Testing (TTT) and Teacher Observation (TOT) evaluation tools. Nutrition educators encouraged students to try local and seasonal combinations of familiar and unfamiliar fruits and vegetables in school during nutrition education classes and events followed by sharing a simple recipe.
Students motivated to try a variety of affordable, local, and seasonal fruits and vegetablesIn Tulare County schools, TTTs were conducted in 207 classes reaching 4,219 students. Of these participants, 96% tasted the food offered, 67% were willing to eat that food in school again, and 63% were willing to ask for that food at home. In Kings County schools, TTTs were conducted in 68 classes reaching 1,317 students. Of these participants, 92% tasted the food offered, 74% were willing to eat that food in school again, and 74% were willing to ask for that food at home. Results for TOT indicated that, of the 1,338 students in Tulare schools, 52% students can now identify healthy food choices. Similarly, of the 1,308 students in Kings schools, 52% students can now identify healthy food choices. Findings show that a variety of healthy foods from all food groups including familiar (e.g. broccoli, spinach, blueberries) and unfamiliar (e.g. Swiss chard, beets, edamame, pears) fruits and vegetables were offered. Findings provide essential insight into taste testing behavioral strategies such as nudging students to try affordable, local, and seasonal fruits and vegetables and sharing the recipe with students to take back home.