Poster Title

Sustainable Approaches to Fighting Hunger: Development and Evaluation of an Innovative Gleaning and Nutrition Education Program Among Food Insecure Children in Lexington, Kentucky

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Institution

University of Kentucky

KY House District #

N/A; Permanent Resident in KY

KY Senate District #

N/A; Permanent Resident in KY

Department

Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition

Abstract

In Kentucky, 22% of children are food insecure. Consumption of fruits and vegetables among food insecure children is low, including during the summer months, a time when fresh produce is readily available but children are not in school. Meanwhile, 40% of edible food goes uneaten every year in the United States, which is equivalent to approximately $165 billion in waste. The Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky (CKUK) provides a sustainable approach to reducing food waste and providing healthy meals to those struggling with hunger. The objectives of this project were to evaluate (1.) if serving snacks using gleaned produce would increase fruit and vegetable consumption of food insecure children participating in the Building Blocks for Healthy Kids Program in Lexington, Kentucky and (2.) if a six-week nutrition education intervention would increase nutrition knowledge. Twenty-six children between the ages of 6 and 11 years participated in the program, and twenty-four children completed the pre- and post- evaluation surveys and the plate waste study. The CKUK summer gleaning program recovered 1,755 pounds of produce that would have otherwise gone to waste, including 57 different types of fruits and vegetables. The six-week nutrition education intervention resulted in an overall increase in knowledge related to nutrition and food systems. As well, plate waste data showed that, on average, over half of the gleaned fruits and/or vegetables provided as snacks to the children was consumed. The project results indicate that this sustainable approach to reducing food waste and providing healthy snacks to food insecure children during the summer months was effective. Further larger scale behavioral and social research projects involving food insecure children in Kentucky are necessary; however, this pilot project serves as model for reducing food waste and re-purposing fresh fruits and vegetables to help in the fight against childhood hunger.

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Sustainable Approaches to Fighting Hunger: Development and Evaluation of an Innovative Gleaning and Nutrition Education Program Among Food Insecure Children in Lexington, Kentucky

In Kentucky, 22% of children are food insecure. Consumption of fruits and vegetables among food insecure children is low, including during the summer months, a time when fresh produce is readily available but children are not in school. Meanwhile, 40% of edible food goes uneaten every year in the United States, which is equivalent to approximately $165 billion in waste. The Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky (CKUK) provides a sustainable approach to reducing food waste and providing healthy meals to those struggling with hunger. The objectives of this project were to evaluate (1.) if serving snacks using gleaned produce would increase fruit and vegetable consumption of food insecure children participating in the Building Blocks for Healthy Kids Program in Lexington, Kentucky and (2.) if a six-week nutrition education intervention would increase nutrition knowledge. Twenty-six children between the ages of 6 and 11 years participated in the program, and twenty-four children completed the pre- and post- evaluation surveys and the plate waste study. The CKUK summer gleaning program recovered 1,755 pounds of produce that would have otherwise gone to waste, including 57 different types of fruits and vegetables. The six-week nutrition education intervention resulted in an overall increase in knowledge related to nutrition and food systems. As well, plate waste data showed that, on average, over half of the gleaned fruits and/or vegetables provided as snacks to the children was consumed. The project results indicate that this sustainable approach to reducing food waste and providing healthy snacks to food insecure children during the summer months was effective. Further larger scale behavioral and social research projects involving food insecure children in Kentucky are necessary; however, this pilot project serves as model for reducing food waste and re-purposing fresh fruits and vegetables to help in the fight against childhood hunger.