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Food Systems, Health, and Well-being: Understanding Complex Relationships and Dynamics of Change

Principal Investigator/Project Leader: 
Department of Project: 
Nutrition Dept.
Project Description: 

Adequate nutrition is critical to human health and well-being. Consumption of fruit and vegetables is a major contributor to adequate nutrition for all age groups. Older adults are at increased risk for inadequate nutrition in part due to unique barriers to obtaining fruits and vegetables. For example, access to fruits and vegetables and inability to travel to grocery stores or other traditional food outlets can be particularly challenging for older adults who may have limited physical mobility and / or few transportation options, especially if they no longer drive. Social isolation is another characteristic that is related to lower fruit and vegetable intake. Social isolation will be examined as an influencer to dietary intake. The study aims to gain a fuller knowledge and understanding of how influencers of healthy eating (such as transportation constraints and social isolation) are impacted during an economic shock and health crisis during a pandemic (i.e., COVID-19).Another aim of the study is to better understand and address programmatic implementation challenges that arise from operating during a pandemic compared to normal operating conditions. The proposed study is in response to community partners in Massachusetts interested in examining Senior Food Box distribution, Farmers Markets coupons and other distribution systems that assist older adults in obtaining fresh fruit and vegetables and, in turn, improve diet quality and contribute to achieving adequate nutrition. The proposed study examines questions about how to best serve the needs of older adults in terms of fruit and vegetable accessibility, affordability (costs),quality, and variety including meeting the requests of ethnically and racially diverse populations.

Nutrition topics: 
Food Access