Low fruit and vegetable intake is recognized as a significant risk factor for poor health outcomes including an increased risk of overweight and obesity and subsequent co-morbidities such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Increasing fruit and vegetable intake serves as a protective factor against obesity and chronic disease. The overall goal of this project is to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables in a target community by integrating expertise in Agriculture, Food Access, and Nutrition Education programming.
Department of Nutrition
Over the past 30 years obesity rates have doubled for young children (6-11 year olds) and quadrupled for adolescents (12-19 years) to 18% and 21%, respectively, with the latest figures indicating more than a third of American children and adolescents are overweight or obese. These obese children are more likely to become obese adults and are at increased risk for developing health conditions normally seen in adulthood, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Although the medical breakthroughs in the early part of the 21st century have made significant progress in the treatment of many chronic diseases, disease prevention or even delay is of critical importance. Healthy People 2010 & 2020 and USDA dietary guidelines for Americans strongly recommend increased consumption of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants and bioactive phytochemicals to prevent or attenuate diet-related chronic diseases and to improve health.
While good nutrition and moderate physical activity can promote health and delay disability in older adults, most do not follow dietary recommendations, and fruit, vegetable and whole grain consumption remains low. Several studies have indicated that older adults can increase fruit and vegetable intakes through nutrition education. Additional and innovative efforts are needed, however, to make progress toward achieving national guidelines in diverse populations of older adults.
The free, online, self-paced, interactive program was created to help early childcare educators, foodservice staff, volunteers and parents understand the importance of reducing the risk of food safety related to fresh fruits and vegetables for young children. The program includes five units: Farm to Preschool Benefits, Fresh Produce and Foodborne Illness Risks, Food Safety Basics for the Classroom and the Kitchen, Food Safety and Gardening Activities, and Food Safety on Field Trips to Farms and Farmers’ Market. Printable resources such as Best Practices