Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Food and Nutrition

First Advisor

Smith, Sylvia


AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF AFTON KHALE DELVECCHIO, for the Master of Science Degree in Food and Nutrition, presented on November 15, 2013 a Southern Illinois University. TITLE: THE IMPACT OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLE EDUCATION WITH A SCHOOL GARDEN ON KINDERGARTENERS' NUTRITION KNOWLEDGE MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Sylvia Smith, CHE BACKGROUND: Over 12.5 million children and adolescents are obese in the United States (Nowak, Kolouch, Schneyer, & Roberts, 2012). Only 7% of youth are currently consuming the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables (Krebs-Smith & Cook, 1996). Children are required to receive some sort of schooling, thus schools are utilized as a prime location in the United States for nutrition and health education. It has been found that exposure to and knowledge about food items, such as fruits and vegetables, results with increased intake (Ohri-Vachaspati, Turner, & Chaloupka, 2012). OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a nutrition education intervention with a school garden on kindergarten students' attitude and knowledge about fruits and vegetables. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: A five-week quasi-experimental study design was used. Three kindergarten classrooms from the same school participated in the study: a control, an education only, and an education with a garden. A total of 62 kindergarten students made up the convenience sample for this study. The study was conducted during April and May of 2013 at Parrish Elementary School in Carbondale, Illinois. The intervention classrooms experienced a half hour nutrition education intervention twice a week, for five weeks. The intervention lessons were based on the Fresh from the Farm curriculum, specifically for the first grade population. The classroom with the garden had an additional hour throughout the week to work and explore a growing garden. The students were given a Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire for baseline measurement and again after the five week intervention. The students' attitude was measured using a three-point hedonic scale, while nutrition knowledge was measured using three separate matching exercises: fruits and vegetables to color, nutrients, and body parts. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Independent Variables: Demographics, Nutrition Education Intervention. Dependent Variables: Attitudes to Fruits and Vegetables, Nutrition Knowledge. STATISTICAL ANALYSES PERFORMED: Descriptive statistics were run to evaluate the study's sample. Chi-square test for cross tabulations was used to evaluate the attitude and knowledge of the kindergarten students. RESULTS: Kindergarten students in the garden classroom had a p-value of <0.001 for the nutrient matching portion of the nutrition assessment. In addition, self-identified white students correctly matched nutrient to body part significantly better than self-identified black students, p< 0.05. An association was found between the garden classroom and correctly matching nutrients, p< 0.001. CONCLUSIONS: Positive associations were found with students experiencing a school garden along with a nutrition a nutrition education intervention and their knowledge outcomes. The children in the garden classroom improved from pre-test to post-test, specifically with the nutrition matching portion of the nutrition knowledge. When compared with the education-only and control classrooms, the students in the garden classroom out-performed on the nutrient matching aspect of nutrition knowledge.




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