Eating fruits and vegetables is associated with lowered risk for many chronic diseases. However, most Americans, especially members of low-income and minority populations, do not eat adequate amounts. Fresh to You is a public-private partnership program that brings discount fresh produce markets into low-income neighborhoods. We conducted a mixed-methods evaluation of Fresh to You to assess the effect of the program on children's consumption of fruits and vegetables.
A local produce distributor brought the Fresh to You markets to 6 community organizations serving low-income families in Rhode Island. The markets, held weekly for 5 months at each site, sold fresh produce at below-retail prices. Parents (N = 480) of children aged 3 to 13 years were recruited at the markets to participate in a 5-month cohort study. The primary outcome was change in children's fruit and vegetable intake, measured by a validated screener. We also conducted postintervention focus groups at each site with parents and qualitative interviews with site contacts to collect feedback about Fresh to You.
From baseline to 5 months, there was a significant increase in children's daily fruit and vegetable consumption of 0.48 cups (t = 4.16, P < .001). Data from follow-up parent surveys, focus groups, and site contact interviews provided positive feedback about Fresh to You and recommendations for improvement.
Fresh to You was effective at increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables among racially and ethnically diverse low-income children aged 3 to 13 years whose parents shopped at the markets. The intervention could serve as a model program for replication in other cities. Refinements and a more rigorous evaluation are needed.