Building the Evidence Base for the Good Food for All Program
Healthy foods translate to better health, but access to fresh, affordable produce can be a barrier for some Americans. This is why, since 2021, Altarum has partnered with Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to improve access to healthy foods for these communities. Together, we have worked to assess the effectiveness of PHA’s Good Food for All program, an initiative designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among lower income families and identify a sustainable marketplace solution for increasing access to healthy, affordable produce.
Each week, participating families received a box of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a recipe booklet with guidance on how to use the contents to prepare healthy meals. The initial produce box program was implemented in 29 cities across the U.S. and provided more than 17 million servings of fresh fruits and vegetables to tens of thousands of families. Its reach was wide, but without an assessment, Good Food for All’s impact was largely unknown.
Altarum was charged with leading this effort. We began by conducting a mixed-methods study to quantify the success of Good Food for All as well as establish an evidence base from which to test new ideas to improve and sustain the program. Through a longitudinal study with a comparison group, we evaluated the impact of the program on participants’ fruit and vegetable consumption habits and whether being part of a free produce box program influenced their willingness to purchase a produce box or other produce-focused meal kits in the future. Assessing overall satisfaction with Good Food for All was also a priority. With focus groups, we were able to gather rich qualitative data about participants’ experiences in the program, including what aspects they enjoyed and those they would change. To round out our evaluation, we interviewed program partners to better understand what worked and what could be improved.
As the next step in this process, we are assisting PHA with disseminating the findings from the impact study in an upcoming publication. However, our commitment doesn’t end there. As a partner supporting PHA’s implementation arm, Altarum is using this information to help shape the vision for Good Food for All into the future. With our expertise, PHA is better prepared to address difficult questions: For example, are produce boxes the best approach, or would families prefer boxes containing all the ingredients necessary to prepare a healthy meal? What are the benefits of integrating Good Food for All with chronic disease prevention programs? And how does offering a box of pre-selected produce compare to offering participants funds to purchase their own produce when it comes to improving produce consumption and reducing produce waste?
With Altarum’s insight and expertise, PHA has developed a greater understanding of what interventions work and is using that information to improve its programming — and, more importantly, develop new strategies to expand access to healthy foods for all.
“Altarum created a framework that PHA leveraged into a leading national program. They advised us on practices and methods that created a body of evidence that shines above our peers. We have, together, influenced the health behaviors and beliefs of thousands, and established a new dynamic among the charitable and private sector.”
— Michael Waddle, Senior Director of Programs, Partnership for a Healthier America