Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Julia A. Snethen

Committee Members

Aaron Buseh, Lori A. Klos, Karen Morin, Susan A. Fontana


School nurses provide health services within schools, as healthy children have a greater potential for optimal learning. Farm to School programs to increase fruit and vegetable intake have been initiated to promote health in many schools. However, the prevalence rate in Wisconsin of children who are overweight is 13.4%, with 15.4% of children categorically obese. Limited information is available related to school nurses’ knowledge of their role in promoting the Farm to School program to advance the health of school children. The purpose of this study was to examine school nurses’ knowledge about the Farm to School program in Wisconsin. A secondary aim was to examine school nurses’ perception of their role in promoting increased fruit and vegetable consumption in the school setting.

A qualitative focus group design was used for this investigation, with a purposive sample of school nurses. School nurses were asked to participate in a focus group to share their perspectives in one on the Farm to School program in Wisconsin, and discuss their role in promoting the health of children. Data was recorded and transcribed verbatim, and then analyzed using a thematic analysis format.

A majority of the 15 participants in the study were BSN prepared (73%), had been a school nurse for more than 7 years (73%) and provided nursing care to 750-999 students (53%). Themes that emerged from the focus groups included: If there were more of me, I could do more; Food environment in schools; School nurses promote health; Obesity is a sensitive issue; and Influences of policy on wellness.

School nurses reported having limited knowledge of the Farm to School programs or how the programs were implemented. Although childhood overweight/obesity was reported as being a health concern, participants did not spend a lot of time at school specifically addressing childhood obesity. School nurse addressed health issues more broadly in their roles as educators, collaborators, advocates and role models of healthy behaviors.

Included in

Nursing Commons