Finding winnable strategies to expand the reach of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program beyond school settings
Fruit and vegetable consumption among school children falls short of current recommendations. The development of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), which combine the resources of government entities with the resources of private entities, such as businesses or not-for-profit agencies, has been suggested as an effective approach to address a number of public health concerns, including inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption. The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) provides fruits and vegetables as snacks at least twice per week in low-income elementary schools. In addition to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption behaviors at school, children participating in the FFVP have been found to make more requests for fruits and vegetables in grocery stores and at home, suggesting the impact of the program extends beyond school settings. The purpose of this multicase study was to describe key stakeholders' perceptions about creating PPPs between schools and nearby retailers to cross-promote fruits and vegetables in low-income communities, using the FFVP. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants from three cases groups: grocery store/produce managers (n=10), district FFVP personnel (n=5) and school FFVP personnel (n=12). Data were analyzed using a directed content analysis approach using constructs from the Health Belief Model, including benefits, barriers, strategies, and motivation. While findings varied by case group, key benefits of creating a PPP included the potential to increase store sales, to enhance public relations with the community, and to extend the impact of the FFVP to settings outside of schools. Barriers included offering expensive produce through the FFVP, time/labor-associated costs, and needing approval from authorities and supervisors. Strategies for developing a PPP included using seasonal produce and having clear instructions for teachers and staff. Stakeholders reported being motivated to create a PPP by the potential to improve health outcomes in children and by wanting to help the community. Both objective and subjective measures were suggested to measure the success of such a partnership. Finally, the educational component of the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-Ed) has the potential to serve as a catalyst for organizing a PPP between FFVP-participating schools and nearby grocery stores.