An Evaluation of the School Lunch Initiative
Berkeley, California, cooking classes at schools, Edible Schoolyard, evaluation, experiential learning, farm to school, garden education, school food, school food changes, school food policy, urban
This double group, prospective evaluation followed fourth and fifth graders for three years to determine the School Lunch Initiative’s effects on students’ knowledge on nutrition, food, and the environment. The School Lunch Initiative incorporated a multi-demensional programmatic approach that offered cooking, gardening, classroom, and lunch room changes. Additionally, changes in attitudes toward healthy eating and environmental responsibility were measured. In schools that offered a highly developed food system program (School Lunch Initiative) students had higher 1) nutrition knowledge scores, 2) higher preferences for fruits and vegetables, 3) increased consumption of fruits and vegetables (in elementary school), and 4) were more likely to express a positive attitude about school food and fresh produce. This school lunch evaluation is important for policy considerations because it highlights the importance of a systematic programmatic approach to improving the school food environment. School food changes at multiple levels should be supported funding and policy wise. This has recently been demonstrated in the creation and increased federal funding provided to Farm to School grants.