Strategies Used1: Farm to School and School Garden activities in Oregon are based on the following evidence-based strategies related to healthy eating:
- Changing access and availability to favor healthy foods and beverages the potential to increase healthy eating behaviors when used by itself or in combination with other intervention strategies. While other strategies seek to make healthy eating desirable, increasing access and availability to healthy foods makes healthy eating doable.
- Comprehensive nutrition programs in a single setting employ multiple intervention strategies within a single setting (e.g., schools), distinguishing them from community-wide campaigns for healthy eating which are multi-sectoral in nature. Such programs include components targeting knowledge, attitudes, and/or skills at the individual level while other components focus on improving support for healthy eating at the interpersonal and organizational levels.
- School nutrition programs to promote healthy eating are able to reach a large group of children, influencing the availability and desirability of healthy foods. Programs that influence the school food environment can also impact teachers, staff, parents and participants in the school system. In this case, schools can be a larger buyer of local food, which can be beneficial for local farmers.
- Increasing purchasing and use of foods from local farms encourages consumption of foods when they are fresh and in season, while supporting the local food economy and reducing the environmental impact of transporting foods over long distances.
There is evidence that strategies to increase the availability of healthy food items are effective in increasing healthy eating in a variety of settings and with diverse populations. Farm to school and school garden programs have been shown to increase access to healthier foods, increase children’s desire to eat healthier foods, and increase children’s consumption of healthier foods.