Best Ideas Fruit and Veggie Promotion

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What are educator’s doing to promote consumption of fruits and veggies?

According our recent online survey to over 500 food and nutrition professionals, the two most preferred messages to encourage consumption of fruits and vegetables are:

1) include them for every meal and snack and

2) get a variety of colors.

In the same survey, we asked what the biggest barriers were for adequate consumption and the 3 top answers were:

1) eating habits/food preferences don't include them

2) eat on the run - poor fast food choices

3) don't buy enough/keep enough on hand

Here are the tips from our survey to show how respondents are teaching their clients to eat more fruits and vegetables:

• I recommend splitting a person's fruit and veggie servings between meals. For example, have one serving of fruit at breakfast, one fruit and one veggie at lunch and 2 more veggies at dinner. This seems less overwhelming that waiting until the end of the day to cram them all in!

• I find simple ways to add fruits and vegetables to favorite dishes consumers already make.

• Fill 1/2 of your plate with vegetables and fruits.

• We use food models. Have patients think of a fruit or vegetable for each color and a way to use them.

• I suggest "portable" fruits and vegetables. Items that don't require lots of prep and storage include: bananas, apples, oranges, pears, plums and peaches, vegetables such as baby carrots, green pepper strips, grape and cherry tomatoes. I encourage the use of prepared fresh salad mixes for those who don't like to clean, chop and prep. I even suggest the salad mixes to be used when making sandwiches. I also keep frozen grapes on hand. The grandchildren and neighborhood kids like them better than popsicles!! I probably purchased 50 lbs. of grapes this summer!!

• In my 8 week "Food Boot Camp," the plate is always supposed to have at least 1/3 of the plate covered by vegetables at the main meal and at least 2-3 other times per day a vegetable is supposed to be chosen. Fresh fruit goal is 2 pieces a day.

• Always order fresh fruit and veggie platters for coffee breaks in the break room. Simply offering sandwiches, cakes, coffee and tea is not okay anymore.

• Encourage individuals to add one a day and increase each week. Getting them to taste new fruits and veggies helps, too.

• Give people simple ideas on how to incorporate vegetables and fruit into their busy lifestyle.

• Show students how easy it is to throw fruit into a backpack.

• We create a themed month around a specific fruit or vegetable that is in season. We provide newsletters about the produce to teachers and staff and provide taste-testing to students each month.

• Demos show how easy it is to get fruits and vegetables in your diet. If they can see it, they can take that info and use at home.

• Instead of thinking of the meat/protein to be served with a meal, think of the fruits/veggies first.

• The bulletin board in the cafe at our hospital explains how to use veggies and fruits, how to store them, and the benefits of them.

• During the Farmers Market season, our Sheboygan County WIC Project collaborates with a volunteer chef, and the market manager to offer cooking demonstrations once per month where the market is held.

• Give specific suggestions to fit fruits and veggies into normal eating patterns.

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