Teachers’ Perceptions Indicate Success for Harvest of the Month Nutrition Education Program
The objective of this study was to examine teachers’ attitudes, beliefs, classroom practices and perceptions of students’ nutrition-related behaviors. The study involved 419 K-6th grade teachers participating in the Harvest of the Month (HOTM) program in fifty low-income schools from 19 school districts in the Sierra Cascade region of northern California. The independent variables were the teachers’ implementation level of the HOTM program and encouragement level of vegetable and fruit consumption. The dependent variables were teachers’ attitudes and beliefs about their ability to provide nutrition education, classroom practices and their perceptions of students’ nutrition-related behaviors. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and multiple ordinal logistic regression models. The analysis accounted for number of years teaching, county location of school, and grade. Implementation level of the HOTM program was significantly related to teachers’ perception of student nutrition-related behaviors. Additionally, teachers’ perceptions of improvements in their students’ behaviors were positively associated the level of encouragement they report to give their students to consume fruits and vegetables. Therefore, levels of both HOTM program implementation and fruit and vegetable consumption encouragement were associated with positive outcomes. Study results support the effectiveness of the HOTM program and identify a need for teacher trainings to increase the levels of nutrition education and encouragement for students to make healthier food choices.