Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Intake with Reservation and Off-reservation Kindergarten Students in Nevada
Keywords:American Indian (AI), Vegetables, Fruits, Traditional Food, Native Language, SNAP-Ed, Schoolchildren, Nutrition, School Gardens
American Indian tribes historically survived on hunting, gathering, and farming activities. As federal policy changed, reservations were established, which limited some of these hunting and gathering activities. Nevada is home to Washoe, Shoshone, and Paiute American Indians. There are 19 federally recognized American Indian tribes with 27 reservations and colonies geographically dispersed across the state of Nevada. Several of these reservations are near Nevada’s small, rural towns where access to fruits and vegetables is limited. Often, the residents of small rural towns next to the reservation are unaware of the tribal cultural history. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension created an elementary nutrition education program called Veggies for Kids, for use in reservation schools and off-reservation schools under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–Education (SNAP-Ed). The Veggies for Kids program utilizes traditional foods, tribal language, and gardening experiences as building blocks to introduce healthy eating and increase fruit and vegetable intake among elementary students. For the 2017–2018 school year, pre- and post-test data were collected from 45 American Indian kindergarten students attending schools on reservations and 486 kindergarten students in off-reservation schools located next to a reservation. Methods of data analysis included descriptive statistics, paired sample t-tests, and nonparametric McNemar testing. Results from the kindergarten data showed an increase in test scores of students correctly identifying USDA’s MyPlate food groups, naming selected fruits and vegetables provided during the program, self-reporting water consumption, and selecting physical activity. Cumulative student test scores for all kindergarten data were statistically significant at p-value <.001.
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