Increasing fruit and vegetable intake in homebound elders: the seattle senior farmers’ market nutrition pilot program.
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INTRODUCTION: Diets that are high in fruits and vegetables lower an individual’s risk of chronic disease and contribute to healthy aging. Homebound seniors often have low intake of fruits and vegetables and limited access to fruits and vegetables with the most protective nutrients and phytochemicals. From June through October 2001, the Seattle Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Pilot Program delivered bi-weekly market baskets that included a variety of fresh, locally grown produce to 480 low-income Meals on Wheels participants. The purpose of this study was to determine if the program increased fruit and vegetable intake in individuals who received the baskets. METHODS: One hundred basket recipients were recruited to complete a telephone survey before and at the end of the farmers’ market basket season. Fifty-two low-income homebound seniors who lived outside the project service area were recruited to serve as control respondents. Fruit and vegetable intake was determined with modified versions of the 6 fruits and vegetables questions in the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System. RESULTS: Seniors who received the baskets reported consuming an increase of 1.04 servings of fruits and vegetables. The difference between the mean servings in the seniors who received the baskets compared to the controls was 1.31 (95% CI, 0.68-1.95, P < .001). At baseline, 22% of the basket recipients were consuming 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, but by the end of the season, 39% reported consuming 5 or more per day. CONCLUSION: Home delivery of fruits and vegetables is an effective way to increase fruit and vegetable intake in homebound seniors.