EatSF: Fruit and Vegetable Vouchers to Support Pregnant Mothers in San Francisco with Food Security and Healthy Dietary Intake

Summary: 
Results show that adding vouchers specifically for fruits and vegetables to existing WIC benefits improves the food security of low-income pregnant women, but at the current amount ($40 each month) does not increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Women in low-income households frequently report challenges affording enough of the healthy foods they would prefer to eat, particularly fruits and vegetables. The tension between what a limited food budget allows and the desire to eat a healthier diet is often strongest during pregnancy when mothers most want to eat a healthy diet in order to support their developing baby.

Objective

The  EatSF  program allows participants to exchange vouchers for fruits and vegetables of their choice at 28 participating corner stores, farmers markets, and large grocery stores across San Francisco. With the support of PTBi-CA, we sought to determine the extent to which $10 in weekly F&V vouchers improves intake of fruits and vegetables, supports food security, and lowers preterm birth rates among low-income pregnant mothers in San Francisco.

Method

We collected surveys from 569 pregnant women from all 6 WIC locations in SF, both before starting in EatSF and after 3-6 months of participation. All of these women were enrolled in EatSF and receiving $40 per month in F&V vouchers. We also collected surveys from 106 non-pregnant women from WIC.

Results

Results show that adding vouchers specifically for fruits and vegetables to existing WIC benefits improves the food security of low-income pregnant women, but at the current amount ($40 each month) does not increase consumption of fruits and vegetables. Improving food security is critically important due to its link to birth outcomes, but further studies are needed to determine what benefit level can support increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.


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Project team: 

Hilary Seligman, MD, MAS

Associate Professor in Res
Medicine

Hilary Seligman, MD, MAS is Professor at the University of California San Francisco with appointments in the Departments of Medicine and of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.