Health Promotion Journal of Australia Health Promotion Journal of Australia Society
Journal of the Australian Health Promotion Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Achieving equity in Crunch&Sip®: a pilot intervention of supplementary free fruit and vegetables in NSW classrooms

Debra Hector A B , Shelley Edwards C , Joanne Gale B and Helen Ryan C D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Cancer Australia, Locked Bag 3, Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012, Australia.

B Prevention Research Collaboration, School of Public Health, Charles Perkins Centre, D17, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia.

C Western Sydney Local Health District, Cumberland Hospital Campus, Gungurra, Building 68, Fleet Street, North Parramatta, NSW 2151, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: helen.ryan@health.nsw.gov.au

Health Promotion Journal of Australia - https://doi.org/10.1071/HE16095
Submitted: 7 September 2016  Accepted: 29 January 2017   Published online: 24 April 2017

Abstract

Issue addressed: Anecdotal evidence from teachers in Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) indicated that many primary school children are regularly unable to participate in the Crunch&Sip® (C&S) program (breaks during class time to eat fruit and/or vegetables and drink water) as they do not bring produce from home. Actual reach of the program may therefore be currently overestimated, and inequitable. This study examined the feasibility, acceptability and efficacy of providing school children supplementary, fresh free produce in supporting equitable participation in C&S.

Methods: Free fruit and vegetables were provided for 10 weeks to four schools in a socioeconomically-disadvantaged area in Western Sydney. WSLHD sourced the produce at a discounted rate and storage and distribution was arranged in partnership with industry. Schools determined methods of allocation to children who did not have fruit or vegetables for the C&S break. Pre- and late-intervention (Week 9) classroom surveys provided quantitative data of intervention efficacy. Qualitative methods were used with key school persons to explore barriers and enablers to implementation.

Results: Participation of children in C&S increased significantly from 46.7% pre-intervention to 92.0% in Week 9. The proportion of children bringing fruit or vegetables from home also increased significantly, from 46.7% to 54.0%. Schools perceived the supplementary strategy to be highly feasible and acceptable.

Conclusion: Expansion of this equity strategy warrants consideration, although issues of sustainability would need to be addressed. The criteria for ‘full implementation’ should include high proportional participation by students in participating classes.

So what?: Establishing a system by which schools in disadvantaged areas can supplement their C&S program would effectively increase access to fruit and vegetables among those children most at need.


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