New study suggests Harvest of the Month curriculum increases fruit and vegetable intake in school children

Nov 24, 2021

New research from the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute suggests that a Harvest of the Month curriculum promoting fruit and vegetable intake, healthy beverage choices, physical activity, and the importance of local agriculture in school-aged children can improve school children's fruit and vegetable intake. Each lesson includes grade-appropriate math and English Language Arts activities addressing the California Common Core Standards. Researchers at NPI collaborated with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) to evaluate an HOTM curriculum taught once per week for six weeks to over 140 fourth- through sixth-grade students in three schools. Students in the three schools receiving the HOTM curriculum showed greater increases in total fruit and vegetable intake, fruit intake, and 100% juice consumption, and preference for several types of fruits and vegetables compared to 210 students in one school that did not receive the curriculum. Focus group findings suggest students, parents and teachers were highly satisfied with the HOTM curriculum. These findings meet the USDA criteria for programs funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education, and schools are encouraged to coordinate with local and state agencies administering SNAP-Ed to integrate HOTM curriculum to expand their nutrition education and promotion efforts. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, adaptations for online curriculum delivery and the adoption of appropriate safety measures for taste-testing when in-person delivery occurs may be needed. The study, funded by the California Department of Public Health, was published in the Journal of School Health in August 2021. Authors include Ron Strochlic, Gail Woodward-Lopez, and Sridharshi Hewawitharana from NPI, Katharina Streng, Jackie Richardson, and Lauren Whetstone from CDPH, and Derek Gorshow from ACOE.