The full report of the independent evaluation of the Grab 5! pilot project, carried out by the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group, University of Oxford. It brings together experiences and understanding gained in the first year of the project's implementation, and pinpoints the key aspects of the project's success. The evaluators concluded that "Increases in fruit and vegetable consumption are a testament to the effectiveness of the Grab 5! approach."
In 2000, Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming, secured a substantial grant from the Community Fund (previously the National Lotteries Charities Board) to fund a three-year project promoting fruit and vegetables to 7-11 year olds, with a focus on low-income groups.
This report represents the completion of the pilot and evaluation phases of the Grab 5! Project. The evaluation was undertaken by the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group of the University of Oxford. It brings together experiences and understanding gained in the first year of the project's implementation, and pinpoints the key aspects of the project's success.
From the start, evaluation was an important aspect of the project's development, since the overall aim of Sustain's Grab 5! Project was to create a framework approach and a programme of activities that could be adapted and used by schools nationwide, to bring healthy improvements to children's eating habits.
Fruit & vegetable consumption: Results
Between June 2001 and July 2002, the Grab 5! approach was tested in 26 primary schools in Lambeth, Leeds and Plymouth, typically in lowincome areas. One of the Leeds schools was situated in a council estate that is among the poorest in Europe. Children’s consumption of fruit and vegetables increased in all three geographical areas, particularly for fruit.
Of the nine primary schools that took part in detailed evaluation, four schools showed 'significant change', three 'some change' and only two appeared to show 'no change'.
Complementing the increased consumption of fruit and vegetables, evaluation researchers also recorded improved awareness and knowledge about fruit and vegetables amongst children who had participated in the Grab 5! Project. Furthermore, there was evidence of a modest reduction in consumption of high fat snacks.
Year 6 children interviewed by the evaluation researchers showed that they were aware of the Grab 5! message, and that they enjoyed the Grab 5! activities in their schools. Some children also reported a positive impact at home.
Given that fruit and vegetable consumption is usually lowest amongst low-income groups, who experience the worst health in terms of diet-related diseases, the results of the Grab 5! pilot project are very encouraging.
An effective approach
Increases in fruit and vegetable consumption are a testament to the effectiveness of the Grab 5! approach. It is systematic, based on sound principles of health promotion, inclusive, engaging and allows for creativity and adaptability within schools. Schools received support from Sustain's Grab 5! project officers that helped to generate ideas and maintain momentum.
Other benefits of the Grab 5! approach
The general enthusiasm and creativity with which Grab 5! was adopted and implemented in schools resulted in a large increase in activities promoting fruit and vegetables, involving staff, parents, governors and local businesses. Schools developed fruit tuck shops, growing clubs, tasting sessions and health focus weeks, amongst many other engaging projects. In this way, schools reported that they had strengthened their educational opportunities and links with the local community.
With the help of Sustain’s Grab 5! project officers, many schools had also engaged with outside organisations such as the Health Action Zone, the local Healthy Schools Programme, the local authority, caterers, local businesses and health professionals. In each of the areas, Lambeth, Leeds and Plymouth, these organisations formed effective multi-agency groups capable of maintaining the project in the long term. At the end of the evaluation, people in all three areas were working on strategies to maintain the Grab 5! initiative.
List of tables and figures
Section 1 Introduction
Section 2 Methodology of the evaluation
Section 3 Outcome evaluation results
Section 4 Process evaluation results
Section 5 Discussion
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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.