English, Cathy [faculty advisor, Department of Nutrition & Food Sciences]




food; education; curriculum; farms


The Massachusetts’ Farm-to-School Project has worked for years to bring local farmers and school districts together. Focused on improving the markets and economic stability of farmers, while also improving the quality of foods available to students, the project implemented the first annual “Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week” during the week of September 24, 2007. As part of Harvest Week, selected schools in Massachusetts purchased and served foods grown and made by local farmers. Marketing materials were used in the participating school cafeterias, and classroom education regarding local agriculture, nutrition, and sustainability was provided. Harvest Week had the potential to improve the health of Massachusetts’ children, enhance the state’s agricultural economy, and raise awareness of the multitude of benefits accompanying the increased use of locally grown foods. The purpose of this project was to evaluate the effectiveness of the activities of Harvest Week. Two elementary schools in Massachusetts that agreed to participate in Harvest Week were studied: Amvet Boulevard Elementary School in North Attleboro and Heath School in Brookline. These schools were selected because of their differing size, location, and ethnic diversity. The effectiveness of Harvest Week was evaluated on two different fronts: (1) changes in student knowledge and perception of locally grown foods and (2) changes in opinions of foodservice personnel on the use of locally grown foods in a school setting. Third grade students in selected classrooms in each elementary school received two 45-minute lessons based on local foods and agriculture, taught by the student researcher. Prior to and following Harvest Week, all third grade students were surveyed regarding their perceptions of local food and agriculture. Comparison of student responses before and after the educational program, along with the comparison student responses in classes that did and did not receive the educational program, helped to determine the effectiveness of the materials developed. One third grade class at Narragansett Elementary School, Rhode Island was surveyed and taught lessons identical to those used in Massachusetts. This school was tested in March 2008 to eliminate the effects of cafeteria marketing programs and Harvest Week publicity on the effectiveness of the curriculum. Apart from the educational portion of the research, foodservice directors and staff were surveyed and interviewed regarding the use of local foods in school kitchens and cafeterias. These surveys were analyzed to determine if the use of local foods in schools is financially feasible, convenient, and worthwhile. The results of this pilot study show that both students and foodservice staff enjoyed and learned from Harvest Week. Future studies are needed to determine whether the increased use of foodservice marketing tools, the education provided to students on local food and agriculture topics, and the purchase of local foods in cafeterias can increase knowledge of local food issues in the future. If proven beneficial, the educational and marketing tools developed in this study may continue to be used by the Massachusetts Farm-to-School Project, farm to school projects in other states, and schools interested in teaching about local agriculture.

Presentation.ppt (1341 kB)

Foodservice Data Sheets.doc (23 kB)
Foodservice Data Sheets.doc

Foodservice Interview - post-week.doc (22 kB)
Foodservice Interview - post-week.doc

Foodservice Interview - pre-week.doc (22 kB)
Foodservice Interview - pre-week.doc

Foodservice Survey.doc (30 kB)
Foodservice Survey.doc

MA Classroom Curriculum.doc (33 kB)
MA Classroom Curriculum.doc

MA Consent & Assent Forms.doc (35 kB)
MA Consent & Assent Forms.doc

MA Lesson #1.ppt (1883 kB)
MA Lesson #1.ppt

MA Lesson #2.ppt (1820 kB)
MA Lesson #2.ppt

MA Student Survey.doc (185 kB)
MA Student Survey.doc

MA Worksheet.doc (72 kB)
MA Worksheet.doc

RI Classroom Curriculum.doc (32 kB)
RI Classroom Curriculum.doc

RI Consent & Assent Forms.doc (35 kB)
RI Consent & Assent Forms.doc

RI Lesson #1.ppt (1462 kB)
RI Lesson #1.ppt

RI Lesson #2.ppt (2048 kB)
RI Lesson #2.ppt

RI Student Survey.doc (208 kB)
RI Student Survey.doc

RI Worksheet.doc (72 kB)
RI Worksheet.doc