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Students receive grant to promote fruit at their school

The Issue

Combating childhood obesity and malnutrition are a priority for UC Cooperative Extension. Children who are healthy do better academically, socially and economically, and this benefits all of society. A cornerstone of good health is diet, and a cornerstone of a healthful diet is adequate intakes of fruits and vegetables. Research shows that children do not meet the recommendations for fruit intake daily (averaging just 1.3 of the 2 fruit servings recommended per day). Studies have shown an inverse relationship with fruit consumption and weight status. Fruit is well liked by children, but access and perceptions of peer acceptance can be a hurdle.

What Has ANR Done?

Marcel Horowitz, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Yolo County, 4-H youth development and nutrition, helped a team of four boys develop and submit two grant proposals. These grants were ultimately awarded for a total of $2,000 from the California 4-H Revolution of Responsibility and from the National Youth Service America/UnitedHealth Group. Monies were allocated for the purchase and delivery of fresh, local produce, kitchen utensils to prepare the fruit, and supplies for a Youth Service Day Event bringing a "smoothie bike" to the school.

Using a youth service-learning model to address local community issues is encouraged by the UCCE 4-H program. By doing so, these youth grantees learn to work as a team, set goals, resolve problems and try new skills.

Once the vendor and supplies were selected, weekly deliveries of local fruit were made to the school. The boys delivered the fruit to the classrooms for students to snack on throughout the week. Presentations were given to teach their classmates how to wash fruit and prepare it using a variety of utensils. A culminating Youth Service Day activity included reading storybooks about fruit to preschoolers and elementary students, leading a fun fruit activity for preschoolers, and helping classmates prepare fruit smoothies on a smoothie bike.

The Payoff

Classmates eat more fruit when it is available

Fruit deliveries began in February and continued through May. The youth grantees developed and conducted evaluations. The 65 students served in first through sixth grade reported that they liked having the fruit in the classroom during the previous four months, and that they thought it increased how much fruit they ate. The evaluations (completed by 53 of the students) show that the number of students snacking on fruit during the school day increased from eight students before the intervention to 26 two months into the intervention and 23 during the last week, a 186 percent increase.

Clientele Testimonial

“The hardest part was doing the math, deciding what the fruit would be, figuring out how much it would cost, and deciding what we could do.” Ethan, age 9

“I’ve learned leadership from this project by giving a presentation in my class about the fruit.“ Baily, age 11

“It’s important for kids to have fruit, usually they don’t, and when they do, they feel good.” Nick, age 10

“I think it’s good we did this project because it’s better to eat fruit instead of sweets.” Collin, age 6


Supporting Unit: Yolo County

Marcel Horowitz, (530) 666-8722, mhorowitz@ucdavis.edu