Project Title

The Effect of the USDA Summer Food Service Program on Participants’ Observed Nutrition Behaviors

Department

Family and Consumer Sciences

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the observed nutrition behaviors of rural, low-income adolescents participating in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Participants (n = 43) were recruited from those enrolled in the Upward Bound (UB) Summer Program at a mid-sized university that utilized the SFSP. The quasi-experimental intervention design used digital photography along with a nutrition quality scale to determine nutrition behaviors, actual food selection, and food consumption at baseline and at program completion. Paired sample t-tests showed a significant increase in consumption for fruit (t(42) = -2.04, p = .048) and milk (t(42) = -3.13, p = .003) at lunch, for milk (t(42) = -3.01, p = .003) at supper, and for milk overall (all three meals combined), t(42) = -3.08, p = .004. Vegetable consumption decreased significantly t(42) = 2.47, p = .018 at supper and overall (all three meals combined) t(42) = 2.65, p = .011. Two proportion z tests showed no consistent increase in the quality of foods selected or consumed. Opportunities for shaping adolescent nutrient intake and eating behaviors during and outside of enrollment in the SFSP exist. Results indicate that a validated nutritional quality scale is needed in order to better determine the nutritional value for individual food items served in a SFSP. The potential remains to increase the quality of the nutritional value of the foods being offered in the SFSP and may provide the opportunity for an increase in healthy nutritious habits for adolescents from rural areas.

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The Effect of the USDA Summer Food Service Program on Participants’ Observed Nutrition Behaviors

The purpose of this study was to examine the observed nutrition behaviors of rural, low-income adolescents participating in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Participants (n = 43) were recruited from those enrolled in the Upward Bound (UB) Summer Program at a mid-sized university that utilized the SFSP. The quasi-experimental intervention design used digital photography along with a nutrition quality scale to determine nutrition behaviors, actual food selection, and food consumption at baseline and at program completion. Paired sample t-tests showed a significant increase in consumption for fruit (t(42) = -2.04, p = .048) and milk (t(42) = -3.13, p = .003) at lunch, for milk (t(42) = -3.01, p = .003) at supper, and for milk overall (all three meals combined), t(42) = -3.08, p = .004. Vegetable consumption decreased significantly t(42) = 2.47, p = .018 at supper and overall (all three meals combined) t(42) = 2.65, p = .011. Two proportion z tests showed no consistent increase in the quality of foods selected or consumed. Opportunities for shaping adolescent nutrient intake and eating behaviors during and outside of enrollment in the SFSP exist. Results indicate that a validated nutritional quality scale is needed in order to better determine the nutritional value for individual food items served in a SFSP. The potential remains to increase the quality of the nutritional value of the foods being offered in the SFSP and may provide the opportunity for an increase in healthy nutritious habits for adolescents from rural areas.