New Research in Preventing Chronic Disease Evaluates Distribution Model to Increase Access to Affordable Fruits and Vegetables

January 04, 2024

New research, funded by Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), and conducted by Altarum and Partnership for a Healthier America, was published in the CDC’s January 2024 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease and found that produce box distribution is a successful method of delivering fruit and vegetables to people with low incomes. The article, “Evaluation of a Distribution Model to Increase Access to Affordable Fruits and Vegetables” is available to read for free.

Because poor dietary intake is responsible for more deaths globally than any other risk factor, identifying effective, sustainable strategies to improve dietary quality through increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is critical to addressing chronic disease risk. 

The purpose of the study was to examine the impact on fruit and vegetable intake of Good Food at Home (referenced in the CDC article as Good Food for All), a 12-week, community-based program to distribute no-cost produce boxes to participants with low incomes. Program satisfaction and future interest in purchasing an affordable produce box was also assessed.

The Good Food at Home program was implemented in 22 US cities, and participants were surveyed at baseline and post-intervention. An online research panel was used as a comparison group.

“Everyone deserves to have access to culturally relevant, nutritious foods, no matter where they live or what their income is. Identifying effective, scalable, and sustainable solutions to making healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, more accessible to all communities is critical to addressing food equity and food and nutrition security in our country,” said Karah Mantinan, MPH, RD, Program Director of Food and Nutrition, Altarum.  “We were excited to collaborate with Partnership for a Healthier America to evaluate the effectiveness of their free produce box distribution program. The findings from our study demonstrate that community-based produce box distribution models are effective in increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and offer a potential marketplace solution to increasing access to affordable produce. As PHA continues to develop innovative solutions to addressing food equity, we look forward to continuing to partner to provide research support to determine what the most effective solutions are, and how those can be scaled to more communities.”

Altarum’s Food and Nutrition services assist organizations at all stages of development, including program planning, implementation, and evaluation. Altarum has a strong history of providing states and implementing agencies with technical assistance to strengthen multilayered nutrition interventions, training on designing and implementing effective policy, systems, and environmental change strategies, transitioning formative research into action plans, and evaluating program outcomes.  

PHA is the premier national nonprofit organization working to create lasting, systemic changes that transform the food landscape in pursuit of health equity. Founded alongside First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign in 2010, PHA develops evidence-based approaches that are implemented in partnership with the private sector, nonprofits, and government, leveraging PHA’s assets and the partner’s knowledge to accelerate the pace of transformation. They help families in underserved communities thrive with consistent and affordable access to food that is affordable, sustainable, nutritious, high-quality and culturally connected. PHA has pledged to add 100 million servings of fruits and vegetables to communities around the country by 2025.

“Since 2020, PHA’s produce box distribution program has helped provide over 34M produce servings to tens of thousands of families across 31 cities and counting,” said Michael Waddle, VP of Programs at PHA. “We’re honored to have this work spotlighted by the CDC’s Preventing Chronic Diseases so that everyone fighting for food equity can learn and be inspired by these findings, at no cost.”  

Findings can be applied to future implementation to scale and tailor the Good Food at Home program or similar programs that support food equity. Future research should explore how produce boxes or produce-centric meal kits could be made available at other community locations and could test pricing models that are attractive and feasible for people with insufficient resources for regularly accessing and purchasing fruits and vegetables. Additionally, future studies should measure nutrition insecurity and the effects of programs like Good Food at Home on rates of nutrition insecurity among people with low incomes.

Read “Evaluation of a Distribution Model to Increase Access to Affordable Fruits and Vegetables” in the January 2024 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease with free access.


Karah Manitnan
Program Director, Food and Nutrition