Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Dr. Mark Swanson

Committee Member

Dr. Angela Carman

Committee Member

Dr. Aaron Kruse-Diehr


Most children in the U.S. consume too few fruits and vegetables which is putting them at risk to develop obesity and other lifestyle diseases. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that individuals should increase the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables consumed in order to prevent weight gain and other chronic diseases. Research shows that garden-based educational programs can increase children’s fruit and vegetable intake as well as change their preferences and attitudes towards eating and trying new fruits and vegetables. Incorporating a garden and nutrition curriculum into a school setting is an ideal opportunity to improve children’s diets as most children regularly attend school where they consume at least one meal each day. Therefore, we propose a program utilizing a district-wide school-based garden and educational program to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in children. We will work with local and regional experts on developing and maintaining the school gardens year-round. By leveraging existing educational curriculum, we will work with teachers to incorporate nutrition and garden-based activities into their lesson plans throughout the school year and develop summer school classes focused on gardening. To facilitate increased fruit and vegetable consumption, produce from the gardens will be used in the school cafeteria for lunches. We will collaborate with the district, area farmers, and other community partners to start a farmers’ market on the school grounds to increase access to local fruits and vegetables. We will evaluate the effects of the program using pretest/post-test design to evaluate the change students’ attitudes, preferences and behaviors towards eating fruits and vegetables. We will also conduct formative research to assess the feasibility, acceptability and sustainability of the school-based garden program and local farmers’ market among the school and community stakeholders.

Included in

Public Health Commons