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Diet Inequalities in NYC

Basket of vegetables

Swipe the Card, Eat More Fruits and Vegetables? Obstacles Facing Nutrition Incentive Programs

It is well known that in the United States, fruit and vegetable consumption is inadequate. More concerning are the disparities in fresh produce consumption between high and low income individuals, as consumption tend to increase with income and education. To address the diet inequities in NYC, a pilot of the Healthy Savings Program took place in 2018. The nutrition incentive program aimed to increase purchases and consumption of produce by providing weekly, immediate discounts of 50 percent on items in the produce department, up to $10 a week. Underserved neighborhoods were targeted – East New York, the North Shore of Staten Island, South Bronx and Tremont and Brownsville with Brownsville – through partnerships with community based organizations. 

A team of five bilingual NYU graduate students, under the direction of Dr. Carolyn Dimitri, followed participants in a six month study to examine the efficacy of the nutrition incentives. One significant obstacle toward increasing produce consumption was poor access to participating supermarkets, along with lack of clarity about how to use the program. These findings are explored in-depth in the paper recently published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition.

Download the paper