Fruit and Vegetable Prescriptions for Pediatric Patients Living in Flint, Michigan: A Cross-Sectional Study of Food Security and Dietary Patterns at Baseline.Nutrients 2019; 11(6)N
Though fruit and vegetable consumption is essential for disease prevention and health maintenance, intake among children fails to meet dietary recommendations. Limited access to and the affordability of fresh produce, particularly among low-income youth, are barriers to adequate intake. To address these challenges, researchers and pediatricians in Flint, Michigan, expanded a successful fruit and vegetable prescription program that provides one $15 prescription for fresh fruits and vegetables to every child at every office visit. Vendors include the downtown farmers' market and a local mobile market. This study describes baseline characteristics, dietary patterns, food access, and food security among 261 caregiver-child dyads enrolled August 2018-March 2019. The child-reported mean daily intake of vegetables (0.72 cups ± 0.77), dairy products (1.33 cups ± 1.22), and whole grains (0.51 ounces ± 0.49) were well below recommendations. Furthermore, 53% of children and 49% of caregivers who completed the food security module indicated low or very low food security. However, there were no statistically significant differences in the child consumption of fruits and vegetables between households that reported high versus low food security (p > 0.05). Results validate and raise deep concerns about poor dietary patterns and food insecurity issues facing Flint children, many of whom continue to battle with an ongoing drinking water crisis. Additional poverty-mitigating efforts, such as fruit and vegetable prescription programs, are necessary to address these gaps.