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The Effects of a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx)® for Low-Income Individuals on Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Food Purchasing Practices

      Background (Background, Rationale, Prior Research, and/or Theory): The FVRx® program subsidizes fruit and vegetable purchases for low-income individuals to reduce the burden of diet-related chronic conditions and food insecurity. Despite the growth of these programs, limited evidence is available on the impact of a produce prescription combined with nutrition education.
      Objective: To examine the effects of an FVRx® program providing both free fresh produce and nutrition education for SNAP-eligible adults.
      Study Design, Setting, Participants, Intervention: A six-month non-randomized control trial of an FVRx® program was pilot tested with 39 SNAP-eligible adults with diet-related chronic conditions using a unique university-community partnership in Athens, GA (mean age: 47.4 ± 11.6, 82.1% female, 20.5% Hispanic). Both FVRx (n = 22) and control (n = 17) groups were recruited through purposive sampling by the collaborating safety-net clinic and Hispanic community partner. The FVRx® intervention (June—December 2017) included a weekly produce prescription redeemable at one farmers market, a monthly SNAP-Ed nutrition education class based on DASH diet principles and food resource management, and a monthly health screening.
      Outcome Measures and Analysis: Self-administered surveys were used to assess dietary intake, nutrition knowledge, attitude, and food purchasing practices. Descriptive analysis and non-parametric tests were conducted.
      Results: After the intervention, the FVRx® group reported significantly higher intake of total fruit and vegetable servings, increased knowledge of fresh fruit and vegetable preparation, and the importance of fruits and vegetables in their family's diet (all P < .05). Most of the FVRx® group also reported switching the majority of their fruit and vegetable purchases from grocery stores to the farmers market, as well as increasing the amount of fresh vegetables purchased (all P < .05).
      Conclusions and Implications: Participation in an FVRx® program combining free fresh produce and nutrition education improves the knowledge, attitude, and consumption of fruits and vegetables and increases access to the local food system. Further research is needed to examine the role and design of nutrition education to maximize the impact of the FVRx® program.
      Funding: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—Education, Wholesome Wave Georgia.