how we use nutrition science to design our programs
We used evidence-based nutrition principles to design our programs. First, we consider the general population's nutritional needs. The Healthy Eating Index gives the total US population a score on how well they adhere to the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. On average in the US, we score a 60 out of 100 points on our overall diet. In short, almost every person in the US needs to eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats.
Fewer than 1 in 10 people in our community consume enough fruits and vegetables to prevent costly and deadly chronic health conditions (Henderson County Community Assessment, 2021.) We focus all our boxes on fresh produce, selecting items that are culturally relevant to our participants.
The most up-to-date research on the dietary quality of people living with household food insecurity is from 2010. These data show that people living in food insecure households get even less fruit and significantly less protein-rich foods than food secure households. While these data are old, we think they are still true today. We see people prioritize access to fruits and healthy protein-rich foods saying that they find it difficult to afford these foods.
The Super Food Box
Caja Solidaria developed guidelines for healthy meals based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. We created a fun video to describe our approach.
We want each "small" share for Healthy Opportunities Pilot Participants to include enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins, to meet their nutritional needs for 2 meals each day for 14 days. We use these guidelines to develop our cooperatively purchased shares, too.
Here's what we recommend that families select:
Each person in your family needs about 3 cups of vegetables each day. Some leafy greens, some red and orange, some beans and legumes, and some starchy are all needed over a week. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Each person in your family needs about 2 cups of fruit each day. That could be 1 banana, 1 large apple, or 1 large orange. Take 7 of these for each person if that makes sense for your family.
Check out this video that explains how we used good nutrition science to decide how much protein-rich food to include in our shares.