Introduction. While school-based kitchen garden programs are shown to improve fruit and vegetable consumption and knowledge among children, there has been little research on participant perceptions of these programs, specifically among minority populations that are disproportionately affected by and at high risk for overweight and obesity. This qualitative study examined the perceptions of and values associated with participation in school-based kitchen garden programs implemented through Edible Schoolyard New Orleans in low-income, predominantly African American schools in New Orleans, Louisiana. Method. Qualitative data were collected through semistructured focus group discussions with key stakeholder groups at schools offering Edible Schoolyard New Orleans. Results. A total of 10 focus groups were conducted across 4 middle schools with students (n = 27), parents (n = 17), and teachers (n = 17). Four primary themes emerged during data analysis: development of life skills, food and health, family and community, and experiential and participatory learning. Conclusions. To strengthen the sustainability and potential impact of school-based kitchen garden programs, future intervention strategies should place specific emphasis on the themes that emerged from this study. School-based kitchen garden programs may be a promising strategy to positively influence the individual, social, and physical environmental factors that contribute to overweight and obesity in low-income, African American communities.
Health Promotion Practice – SAGE
Published: Sep 1, 2019