Sprouting Healthy Kids Promotes Local Produce and Healthy Eating Behavior in Austin, Texas, Middle Schools

Promoting the use of local produce and healthy eating behavior in Austin city schools

Sustainable Food Center, which promotes healthy food choices, partnered with six middle schools in Austin, Texas, to implement Sprouting Healthy Kids. The pilot project was designed to increase children’s knowledge of the food system, their consumption of fruits and vegetables and their access to local farm produce. Most students at these schools come from economically disadvantaged families, and most are ethnic minorities.

Key Results:

  • Participating schools devoted between eight and 24 class periods per semester to lessons on nutrition and food systems.
  • All participating schools created gardens and 90 students participated in after-school programs involving the gardens.
  • School cafeterias at the six pilot schools incorporated fruits and vegetables from nearby farms into their menus an average of once a week.
  • The center sponsored “meet the farmer” days, which coincided with vegetable sampling events at lunchtime.

Key Evaluation Findings: An evaluation funded by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation found that:

  • Students who took part in two or more project components consumed more fruits and vegetables than those with less involvement in the project.
  • Students who took part in only one project component demonstrated greater knowledge of nutrition but did not consume more produce than students who did not participate at all.
  • Farmers’ visits, tasting events and classroom lessons had the greatest effect on fruit and vegetable consumption.