Food safety and school garden program

Valerie Calberry, University of Rhode Island


School food safety education programs have increased knowledge and promoted proper food safety practices, attitudes and beliefs of students. Supplying young children with basic food safety education is important for the development of foundational food safety knowledge and behaviors. The primary objective of the Food Safety and School Garden Program (FSSGP) was to develop an intervention curriculum that integrated food safety principles into school garden-related activities and the primary hypothesis was that there would be a significant increase in students’ knowledge from pre- to post-intervention. The secondary objectives of this study were to assess knowledge changes by grade and by curriculum category, evaluate the FSSGP through student activity ratings and to assess student-to-parent interaction. The FSSGP was part of the Farm to School Project, which was coordinated by Farm Fresh RI, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to grow a local food system. The two-lesson intervention consisted of a didactic component of four major categories: bacteria, washing hands, washing produce, and washing containers and interactive activities that accompanied discussion of each category. First through fifth grade students’ (n=194) knowledge was evaluated using 10-question baseline and post-intervention tests. Number of correct responses increased from 5.6±1.8 to 8.1±1.9 (p<.001). There was an increase in knowledge by grade (p<.001) and by category (p<.05). Additionally, the majority of students rated all activities as either satisfactory or better. Finally, over 80% of students indicated they would tell their parents about what they learned in the FSSGP and the majority of responding parents indicated that their child communicated with them about one or more topics from the FSSGP. This study supports the importance of early education intervention on proper food safety principles in school gardens.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|Horticulture|Nutrition|Public health

Recommended Citation

Valerie Calberry, "Food safety and school garden program" (2015). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1588751.