"Changing Students' Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior in Relation to Food: An Evaluation of the School Lunch Initiative"

"Changing Students' Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior in Relation to Food: An Evaluation of the School Lunch Initiative"

The School Lunch Initiative, a collaborative partnership among the Chez Panisse Foundation, the Center for Ecoliteracy, and the Berkeley Unified School District, is a comprehensive effort to integrate experiential learning in the garden and learning lab with traditional academics.  This, in turn, has the power to change the school meal plans. To understand the effects of exposing students to this dynamic program, Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health at U.C. Berkeley conducted a longitudinal, prospective study of fourth and fifth graders over the course of three years (2006-2009).  The overall purpose of the study was to evaluate “students’ knowledge about nutrition, food and the environment; attitudes towards healthy eating and environmental responsibility; and eating behaviors.” (p. 3)

The study concluded that the School Lunch Initiative was successful in many areas: students had an increase knowledge of nutrition, as well as an increased preference and consumption habit of healthy foods.  Additionally, students’ attitudes about the taste and health value of school lunches improved in conjunction with the changing food system.  The study demonstrated the benefits of integrating gardening and cooking lessons into the standard academic curriculum.

The full report, as well as many other excellent resources to support healthy eating habits and changing school lunch programs, can be found on the School Lunch Initiative's website.

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