Impact of school gardens in Nepal
This article (PDF) in the Journal of Development Effectiveness evaluates the combined impact of school gardens linked to complementary lessons and promotional activities about gardening and nutrition. The impact is measured as the nutritional awareness, knowledge, perceptions, eating behaviour and nutritional status of 10- to 15-year-old schoolchildren in Nepal. Data was collected from 30 schools and a sample of 1275 and 785 schoolchildren for the 2014 and 2015 school years, respectively. Three intervention components were implemented in all intervention schools and targeted at grades 6 and 7: 1) school gardens for the cultivation of nutrient-dense vegetables by the schoolchildren; 2) a teaching curriculum about gardening, nutrition and, water, sanitation and hygiene; and 3) promotional materials for children and parents to reinforce the lessons learned and to strengthen impact. After one year of intervention, a significant increase in children’s awareness about fruit and vegetables, their knowledge about sustainable agriculture, their knowledge about food, nutrition and health and their stated preferences for eating fruit and vegetables was found. However, these improvements in intermediary outcomes did not translate into significant improvements in fruit and vegetable consumption or nutritional status. To influence children’s food decisions, it may be required to work more intensively with parents and to increase the availability of fruit and vegetables at the household and community level so that children are better able to practice what they learn at school.