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About the Food and Nutrition Information Center

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Title:From Our Farms
Alt. Title:Teaching Kids About Food, Nutrition, and the Farm
Pub. date: 2006
Edition: 1st
Includes: Binder, CD, handouts
Audience: Children, Parents
Language: English
Description:“From our Farms” is an exciting curriculum that will help bring the topics of food, nutrition, and local agriculture to life for children. It is a compilation of fun, educational activities that use exploration and adventure to teach children about food, nutrition, and the farm. The program is ideally set at a local library, school, child care center, or a special workshop.

Key concepts include: all of the food we eat comes from the farm, some fruits and vegetables grow better in our region of the country, while others grow better in different areas, children and their families can be inspired to eat more fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products when expose to them in a way that encourages exploration, adventure, and fun.

Funding Source: Rutgers Cooperative Extension, County of Gloucester, NJ Department of Agriculture, Delaware Valley Chapter of the Society of Nutrition Education
Developer: Luanne Hughes
Organization: Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension
Phone: 856-307-6450, extension 2
Length: 22 pages
Pilot Testing: In 1999, prior to developing the curriculum, we conducted individual interviews and focus groups with county residents, farmers, and potential collaborators (librarians, teachers, childcare providers and nutrition educators) for the following three reasons: 1.Assess interest in a library-, childcare- and school-based nutrition and agriculture education program. 2. Agree on the most efficient method to deliver educational messages through these outlets. 3. Determine the ability of these outlets to support XXE in the development and evaluation of a nutrition and agriculture education program if focus groups and interviews determine there is a need. The focus groups, conducted with 18 librarians, 6 childcare providers, 8 farmers, 7 registered dietitians, and 3 elementary school curriculum coordinators, indicated that:
  • Library, childcare center and school budgets varied significantly. Some had minimal funds to support a new program, others could garner additional support.
  • Librarians were willing to train staff to administer the program only if it required a minimal time commitment.
  • Curriculum coordinators preferred to have materials that could be incorporated into existing classes and lessons, rather than a separate, new curriculum. They wanted tools that would assist teachers in meeting core curriculum standards for subjects such as health, math, science and so forth.
  • Using learning boxes was viewed as a time-, cost-, and labor-efficient vehicle that allowed flexibility and "customization."
  • All groups favored supplementing the learning boxes with special programs presented by XXE staff. These include story hours presented at local libraries, cooking demonstrations that involve families cooking together under the direction of nutrition educators, and family gardening projects that were taught by Master Gardeners, trained horticulture volunteers.
The individual interviews were conducted with 12 parents to determine interest in a learn-at-home agriculture and nutrition education program. According to the interviews, parents would use such a program if offered at the library, school or childcare center; liked the idea that such as program would involved the family in reading and learning together; and admitted that finding time to regularly commit to such activities could be a challenge. Focus groups and interview data were used to develop the From Our Farms materials, which were then pilot tested. Revisions based on pilot test data were made and the curriculum was field tested in 9 local libraries and Head Start centers. Formative evaluation of the library-based curriculum was attempted by proved to be impractical, as library staff was unable to allocate sufficient time to the process. Instead, a follow-up telephone survey administered to the parents/caregivers of 500 families who used the library-based curriculum. The parents/caregivers were surveyed 6 to 9 months after check out a fruit or vegetables learning box. A total of 195 parents/caregivers (39%) completed the telephone survey. According to the evaluation, participation in the program resulted in a number of behavior changes, as outlined:
  • 75% reported that their child tried a new fruit or vegetable
  • 34% prepared/cooked locally grown foods with their children
  • 75% learned how fruits/vegetables grow
  • 83% learned which fruits/vegetables grow in New Jersey
  • 67% planted a garden or fruit/vegetable plants
  • 97% visited a farm stand or farm market
  • 99% purchased "Jersey Fresh" produce
Assessment instrument Used? Yes
Use Restrictions: May not copy.
Reviewers Comments: This program does a great job focusing on its target audience of three through eight year olds. It uses a step-by-step process of how to teach children about nutrition that is often missed in other educational settings. The information and materials stimulate children’s mind and reinforce their inquisitive nature. One of the strengths of this resource is that it incorporates parents into the nutrition education process. Parents play a large role in teaching their children about foods and this From Our Farms assists in that learning process.

The material included in this curriculum would be most effectively taught by an educator with a nutrition related background. Individuals with limited nutrition background could apply this program with relative ease however some training or background information may be needed prior to program implementation to assist the presenter when questions arise.

Curriculum is geared towards individuals living in or around Gloucester County, New Jersey. Some of the activities are based in the local area and suggest going to local dairy farms, farm stand, or farmers market. This information would need to be adapted for use in other parts of the country.

Readability of the material seems suitable to the target audience. Vocabulary, illustrations, layout, design and headings are all appropriate for the audience and supportive of the educational objectives. The visual aids help bridge the gap between the lesson and the application of the lesson. The Family Fun Pages and Activity Sheets both reinforce the lessons.

One of the activities in “From Our Farms” suggests creating learning boxes. These boxes are plastic containers filled with storybooks and materials listed in the binder. There is one box for each topic; fruits, vegetables, and dairy cows. The boxes contains "goodies" for families to try together--games, puppets, audio and/or videotapes, puzzles and farm- and food-focused storybooks. The boxes can be used in a classroom setting at school, in the library or at home.

To help offset the costs associate with implementing “From our Farms,” (paper and photocopying; miscellaneous art/craft supplies like crayons, scissors, and glue; as well as the supporting educational material and storybooks to create the learning boxes, if desired), the developers provide suggestions on applying for small, community-based grants as well as finding local businesses that might help fund the program.

The sample recipes provided in curriculum guide are aimed at getting children involved in the preparation of each item. These recipes appear to be low cost and use ingredients that are readily available in most grocery stores. Some recipes may be complicated to produce due to the amount of ingredients and sometimes numerous steps to make the recipe. Recipes do not contain yield, serving size or nutrition information.

Family Fun Pages are a great way to help parents teach their kids about food and nutrition. They contain interesting “Food Facts” and helpful information about food related topics or activities. Some of these pages appear visually cluttered and could benefit from more white space. The pages located on the CD-Rom are in color but when copied in black and white, they require large amounts of black and grey ink.

The sample Activity Sheets in the guide are primarily coloring or drawing related activities. Each sheet provides an educational message that is some how related to diary, fruits or vegetables.

The CD-Rom includes Adobe Acrobat PDF and Microsoft Publisher versions of the following items:
• Fruit Family Fun Pages (print sample pages PDF 811KB) & Activity Sheets
• Vegetable Family Fun Pages & Activity Sheets
• Dairy Cow Family Fun Pages & Activity Sheets

The “From our Farms” Web site explains what the material is about and how it is used and allows viewers to samples of the family fun pages. While visiting the site, patrons can also submit a request for the curriculum guide. The Web site does not provide additional staff training or assistance.

Contact the Distributor:
    Distributor: Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Gloucester County
    Contact: Luanne Hughes
    Mail: 1200 N. Delsea Drive
Clayton, New Jersey 08312
    Phone: 856-307-6450 ext. 2
    Order URL:
    Cost: 60.00 per Curriculum
    Avail. in Qty: Yes

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