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A School-Based Fruit and Vegetable Snacking Pilot Intervention for Lower Mississippi Delta Children

Tussing-Humphreys, Lisa, Thomson, Jessica, McCabe-Sellers, Beverly, Strickland, Earline, Lovera, Dalia, Bogle, Margaret
eating habits, elementary students, food choices, fruit consumption, fruits, ingestion, river deltas, school children, snacks, surveys, vegetables, Mississippi
Background. In this pilot study, we examined school-aged children’s familiarity and willingness to try fruits and vegetables (FV) and the impact of a 6-week school-based snack feeding intervention on familiarity and consumption of FV. Methods. In all, 190 fourth- to sixth-grade students from a rural Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD) school participated. Measures included surveys assessing familiarity and willingness to try FV and direct observation of FV snack consumption. Results. At baseline, the majority of students provided correct name recognition for 6 of the 11 snacks offered, whereas name recognition increased significantly for the other 5 FV postintervention. Similarly, previous eating experience increased for 7 of the 11 FV offered. On average, a higher percentage of the fruit (54% to 98%) and vegetable (49% to 50%) snacks offered were consumed by the students. Willingness to try and grade level were the strongest predictors of fruit and vegetable snack consumption. Conclusions. These results suggest that an FV snack feeding intervention can increase the familiarity, and thereby potentially, the amount of FV consumed by LMD school children. Further research is warranted to determine if the positive effects of such programs extend beyond the school environment and into the home.