Effectiveness of Food Sustainability Education among Grade School Students
Keywords:Food, Sustainability, Local Foods
Increasingly, the human population is having an impact on the environment. Educating younger generations on sustainability issues may make a difference. This project’s goal was to raise awareness and change attitudes toward food sustainability issues by creating an effective education program for elementary age students. The project was a four-week interactive program focusing on local foods, gardening, recycling, and world hunger. Participants included 85 elementary age students from two local schools in southern Illinois. To determine the program effectiveness, a within-subjects, repeated measures design was utilized to compare mean scores of participants. Pre and post-program surveys were completed regarding awareness, attitudes, and behaviors toward the topics taught during the program. PASW (Version 18.0) was used to analyze the data. The level of significance was established at p<0.10 because of the exploratory nature of the research. Results indicated that the program was most effective with fourth grade students. Fourth grade had significant change in understanding world hunger, effects on the world around them, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and stores carrying more local foods. Eighth grade had significant change in effects on the world around them and understanding CSA. Sixth grade students had significantly higher mean scores in understanding CSA. The positive results with the youngest age group suggests that food sustainability programs introduced to this age through interactive programs can be effective at changing awareness and attitudes. The lack of positive results with the sixth and eighth grade students should be researched further. Future sustainability projects should focus on finding the most effective hands-on techniques to increase student awareness of food and the environment.
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