VT Fresh is a nutrition education program that aims to increase access and improve availability of fruits and vegetables at community food shelves. The program model combines research and evidence based approaches to:
- Help change the food environment in community food shelves by increasing the prominence, convenience and availability of fruits and vegetables.
- Facilitate preference change and increase knowledge, awareness and skills for selecting and preparing these foods through cooking demos and taste tests.
- Reinforce core nutrition messages and affect fruit and vegetable consumption decisions by improving displays, signage and promotions of these products.
VT Fresh is inspired by research on nutrition intervention programs based out of supermarkets and corner stores which have found that modifying the food environment can have a large impact on food related behaviors. To compliment this, VT Fresh uses a conceptual framework derived from social cognitive theory combining environmental and individual components to increase knowledge, awareness and skills. VT Fresh incorporates additional ideas from behavioral economics research including strategies for improving the food environment with displays, promotions and messaging tools that help make it easier for people to make fruit and vegetable consumption decisions that support long term health.
In 2014, the program was developed and piloted in partnership with 11 food shelves. The following was accomplished:
- 119 cooking demos
- 960 participants
- 2496 contacts
- 19,159 lbs of produce distributed
After the taste test:
- 39% of participants indicated they like a specific fruit or vegetable at least 30% more after the taste test than before.
- 40% of adult participants demonstrated the intention to eat a specific vegetable again by taking the food item home.
- 70% of participant indicated the intention to change their diet by stating that they were “more likely to eat” a specific fruit or vegetable again after participating in the program.
100% of food shelves implemented at least one new or improved strategy to modify their food environment to promote consumption of more fruits and vegetables. Improvements included:
- Layout and prominence of produce displays
- Procurement to increase availability and variety
- Storage to increase availability and distribution
- Convenience to increase accessibility
- Food shelves with system in place to ensure Staff/Volunteers who are trained will share leadership of taste tests/cooking demos after grant period ends
VT Fresh Locations
- Bennington Kitchen Cupboard, Bennington
- Brattleboro Area Drop In Center, Brattleboro
- Chester-Andover Family Center, Chester
- Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, Burlington
- Central Vermont Community Action Council, Barre
- Fairfield Community Center, East Fairfield
- Hardwick Area Food Pantry, Hardwick
- Johnson Food Shelf, Johnson
- Our Place Drop-In Center, Bellows Falls
- Putney Food Shelf, Putney
- Springfield Family Center, Springfield
To read more about the goals and strategies of VT Fresh, click here for a PDF.
For more information on VT Fresh, contact:
Michelle Wallace, Program Director