Lessons Learned from JCN&M Study Could Benefit Future Farm Stand Studies


The following is the sixth in a series of news stories examining each of the JCN&M papers in the Spring 2017 Issue.

Because of the abundance of supermarkets, restaurants and convenience stores, many people take the availability of healthy food for granted. However, in low-income communities, lack of access to healthy foods is increasingly becoming a problem in the U.S. defined as a “food desert,” many of these people have no outlet to food or are limited to mini-marts and/or fast-food restaurants instead of grocery stores.

In order for people to consume fruits and vegetables, they must have access to them. Recent studies have shown that low income individuals who perceive the places they shop offer a wide selection of quality produce, they were more likely to eat three or more servings of fruit and vegetables daily.

One program offered to low-income schools in California is the Harvest of the Month (HOTM) Program, which featured a series of 12 monthly lessons aimed to increase exposure to and consumption of various fruits and vegetables. Each month a California-grown fruit or vegetable is featured and each student gets to taste the featured produce while learning about its benefits and how it grows.

Another method to increase exposure of local produce was through the use of a farm stand. Studies have shown that exposure to the farm stands significantly increased consumption of fruit, fruit juice, tomatoes, green salad, and other vegetables.

In a new study in the Current Issues section of the latest issue of SNA’s The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management, a paper by Xotchil Medina, MS; Joan Giampaoli, PhD, RDN; Keiko Goto, PhD and Shelley Hart, PhD described the effect of offering HOTM produce for sale to students, teachers, and community members at bi-monthly farm stands at a low-income school in the western United States. Impact of a Farm Stand on Fruit and Vegetable Preferences, Self- Efficacy, and Availability at Home Among Students From a Low-Income School found that the farm stand did have a positive influence on students’ purchases and consumption of produce, particularly fruit and fruit-based recipes. It also reviled that students purchased produce from the farm stand more than family, staff, and community members.

Unfortunately, the study deduced that the farm stand did not have a statistically significant effect on fruit and vegetable preferences, self-efficacy or availability at home among students. The authors believed that future farm stand study projects may benefit by offering a wider variety of produce on a weekly basis, providing students hands-on interactions in selecting and preparing produce, and making the farm stand more accessible to families and the community.

Still, students in this study did state, they would frequent the farm stand if it were available more often. To encourage preferences and availability of fresh produce among students and their families, the authors of the study suggest that schools could collaborate with farmers to set up regular farm stands on the school campus. The study proposes that these farm stands could be offered on a weekly basis or more as needed. If adopted, a school authority would need to be responsible for managing the farm stands and marketing them to maintain their viability.

The study concludes, that there were several lessons learned from this research that would benefit future farm stand studies.

Of note to foodservice professionals, included in the paper is a survey form that can be used to evaluate student fruit and vegetable preferences and self-efficacy at your school.

About The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management:
The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management (JCN&M) is the exclusive source for research findings in this profession, and it features a variety of studies in the following four categories: Research in Action, Current Issues, Practical Solutions and FNS Research Corner. Published twice a year, this peer-reviewed research journal is available free of charge, online only. Read the current issue today.

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