The focus of this report is on the implementation of the Ministry of Health's Fruit in Schools (FiS) initiative. FiS has two main parts:
1. Students in low-decile schools are given a free piece of fruit a day.
2. Schools are encouraged to use a Health Promoting Schools approach to address four health priority areas: healthy eating; physical activity; sun protection; and smokefree.
The first phase of FiS began in late 2005 and the initiative now involves three phases and 280 schools. FiS now covers almost all decile 1 primary schools. FiS schools work in regional clusters and are supported by FiS coordinators (FISC) and a range of partner agencies such as the National Heart Foundation, Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) and regional sports trusts, the Cancer Society, and School Support Services.
The Healthy Futures evaluation consists of baseline and yearly follow-up surveys of school staff and students, as well as some case studies. Agency stakeholders are interviewed or surveyed yearly. The evaluation explores factors that support or hinder the FiS initiative now and in the longer term; and investigates changes that are occurring in schools, teacher and partner agency practice, and in students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours. The main focus is on Phase 2 FiS schools.
The main aim of the report is to generate information that could be used by a range of stakeholders to improve the FiS initiative. The report overviews the key findings to date from the first 18 months of the Healthy Futures evaluation, and suggests possible avenues for strengthening FiS.
In combination, the findings summarised in this report suggest there had been a systemic effort in FiS schools to address student health and wellbeing. To date, this effort has mostly been focused around three of the four health priority areas (healthy eating, physical activity, and sunsmart). The information we collected from different groups of people told similar stories. Principals, teachers, students, and agency partners were enthusiastic about FiS and considered it to be a successful initiative. School staff reported that being part of FiS had increased the focus on health and wellbeing at their school. FiS had also assisted them to develop new or stronger connections with health promoters. As a result, all but a few school staff considered FiS was supporting them to make a range of changes to policies and school activities.
Over 2006, the 591 students we tracked had developed more positive attitudes towards healthy behaviours, increased their knowledge about these behaviours, and in some cases, had started to change their behaviours. In 2006, schools had prioritised two areas - healthy eating and physical activity - and the information we collected from students shows the most change in these two areas.OsCommerce