The Theory of Planned Behavior and the USDA Summer Food Service Program

M. Rachel Harrington, Melinda Ickes, Kelly Bradley, Melody Noland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Examine the impact of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) on the intentions to positively change fruit and vegetable consumption in a rural, low-income adolescent population using the Theory of Planned Behavior. Design: Quantitative data collected via a pre-post intervention survey to determine predictors of positive nutrition behaviors and changes in self-reported fruit and vegetable consumption. Setting: A mid-sized university. Participants: Fifty-seven high school students. Participants were primarily female (n = 36) and white (n = 56). Intervention: Participants followed the standards of the SFSP for 5 weeks and were provided with mandatory and optional nutrition education sessions. Main Outcome Measure: Intentions to change nutrition behaviors. Analysis: Multiple regression. Results: Paired-sample t test showed a significant increase in knowledge from pretest (mean [M] = 11.18, SD = 1.68) to posttest (M = 12.91, SD = 1.76); t[56] = −8.09, P < 0.001; (t[56] = −8.09, P < 0.001) and in self-reported fruit and vegetable intake from pretest (M = 13.96, SD = 4.23) to posttest (M = 16.80, SD = 5.42); (t[56] = −3.20, P = 0.002). Regression demonstrated that all constructs of the Theory of Planned Behavior were significant (F[4, 52] = 14.56, P < 0.001 with an R2 of 0.53) for their effects on behavior intentions with perceived behavioral control being the most salient predictor. Conclusions and Implications: Opportunities for shaping adolescent nutrient intake and eating behaviors during enrollment in the SFSP exist. Reinforcing positive attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control may help to increase nutrition behavioral intentions and nutrition behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)944-951
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Eastern Kentucky University UB program for supporting a graduate assistant that aided in participant compliance with the SFSP standards and for teaching the optional nutrition events (approximately $1,400). The authors also thank the Arvle and Ellen Turner Thacker Endowment Fund for providing the supplies and equipment needed for the study (approximately $678.18).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Summer Food Service Program
  • Theory of Planned Behavior
  • USDA
  • adolescent
  • food preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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