Nutrition In Demand and Produce for Better Health Foundation Release Fruit & Vegetable Gap Analysis: Public Feedback Requested

ICYMI last week, Nutrition On Demand, with the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), released the draft report entitled, Fruit & Vegetable Gap Analysis: Bridging the Disparity Between Federal Spending & America’s Consumption Crisis. I’m telling you this, not just because I am incredibly proud of the report and our work with PBH on it, but also because we have put out the draft for a 30-day comment period to further garner feedback and input from other experts and stakeholders.

The ask is simple. Read it. Engage with us. Share it. Then, collaborate with us to bolster efforts at the national, state, and local levels to create a laser focus on improving fruit and vegetable intake once and for all.

Nutrition On Demand felt strongly compelled to partner with PBH on this edition of the Gap Analysis and worked tirelessly over the past nine months to obtain, analyze, and provide insight into the data. Here’s why:

  1. Fruit and vegetable consumption is persistently and woefully inadequate. With 90% of Americans not consuming recommended amounts of vegetables and 80% of Americans underconsuming fruits, I think we can all agree that we need to do something different in order to change the trajectory of dietary patterns. NHANES data show that the amounts Americans are eating have been stagnant for a while. Data measuring frequency of consumption tells a different story – specifically, an erosion of fruit and vegetable eating habits over time. Case in point – 26% of Americans do not eat any fruit in a given week. Additionally, between 2015 and 2020, vegetable eating occasions decreased in five of eight age groups.  
  2. We, at Nutrition On Demand, have a unique perspective on the innerworkings of nutrition in the Federal government. Tricia Psota and I, together, have more than 15 years working in nutrition science, policy, education, and promotion at agencies within the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. We appreciate the hard work and institutional knowledge of career and appointed nutrition and public health professionals in the government and, since being back in the private sector, have been dedicated to creating an understanding of how the public and private sectors can most effectively work together toward the shared cause of improving diet quality.
  3. It’s clear that Congress needs to take the lead for real change to happen. Our experience illuminates that there needs to be: 1) clarity and cohesion of nutrition priorities at the highest levels; and 2) dollars earmarked for the cause. If the cause is improving fruit and vegetable intake, Congress must understand the best practices in improving consumption and earmark funding specifically for implementing these efforts.  This assertion is consistent with a recent GAO report that examined the current gaps and redundancies in Federal efforts toward diet-related disease prevention. Its findings demonstrate that departments and agencies need to effectively work together and be empowered to provide the specific support that consumers need to increase consumption. (Read the draft Gap Analysis report to learn more about what this means in terms of fruits and vegetables!)

Writing this report, and working with government agencies to develop it, was a full-circle moment for us. We have connected with previous colleagues and analyzed both familiar and new data. We have channeled our passion for public health, nutrition, and fruit and vegetable underconsumption and viewed solutions through both public and private sector lenses.

We are thrilled to share this report and open it up to your thoughts and ideas. But, most importantly, we are proud to be part of the cause to stop the fruit and vegetable consumption crisis in its tracks and help all people not only eat, but enjoy, their fruits and veggies.

To review the draft report and provide comment, please visit fruitsandveggies.org/gapanalysis and submit your comments to gaps@pbhfoundation.org no later than Friday, February 4, 2022. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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