The Effect of a Fresh Produce Incentive Paired with Cooking and Nutrition Education on Healthy Eating in Low-Income Households: A Pilot Study
This study pilot-tested combining financial incentives to purchase fruits and vegetables with nutrition education focused on cooking to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables and improve attitudes around healthy eating on a budget among low-income adults. The goal of the pilot study was to examine implementation feasibility and fidelity, acceptability of the intervention components by participants and effectiveness.
The study design was a pre-post individual-level comparison without a control group. The pilot intervention included two components, a scan card providing free produce up to a weekly maximum dollar amount for use over a 2-month period, and two sessions of tailored nutrition and cooking education. Outcomes included self-reported attitudes about healthy eating and daily fruit and vegetable consumption from one 24-h dietary recall collected before and after the intervention.
Greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area in Minnesota.
Adults (n 120) were recruited from five community food pantries.
Findings indicated that the financial incentive component of the intervention was highly feasible and acceptable to participants, but attendance at the nutrition education sessions was moderate. Participants had a statistically significant increase in the consumption of fruit, from an average of 1·00 cup/d to 1·78 cups/d (P < 0·001), but no significant change in vegetable consumption or attitudes with respect to their ability to put together a healthy meal.
While combining financial incentives with nutrition education appears to be acceptable to low-income adult participants, barriers to attend nutrition education sessions need to be addressed in future research.