Nutrition and Dietetics

Second Major



Paiva, Andrea, L

Advisor Department





Food security; food pantry; fruit; vegetable


Food insecurity, defined as the limited or uncertain access to nutritionally adequate, safe, and acceptable food, is a major public health concern. In 2017, 15 million US households were at one point food insecure. Food insecure adults typically have poorer diet quality than food secure adults independent of poverty. Both food insecurity and poor diet quality are associated with diet sensitive chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. People who rely on food pantries are a subgroup of concern due to their limited ability to purchase food. As meat, poultry, and seafood are the most expensive items in a food budget and are usually purchased first, lower income families typically have less money to purchase fruits and vegetables. To help address this issue, Food is Medicine (FIM), a low-cost, plant-based cooking program, was designed for food pantry clients in Rhode Island. A total of 18 participants attended a four-week series of classes in which they received a nutrition education lesson, observed a recipe preparation, and ate a meal that was one of a set of 22 FIM recipes. The recipes were simple and inexpensive at $1.45 per serving. Participants received recipe ingredients each class and were encouraged to prepare the recipe at home. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of FIM on participant food insecurity, fruit and vegetable consumption, and body mass index. As a class instructor for FIM, evaluating this program is an important step towards understanding its impact on the community and may lead to possible improvements to ultimately help support the health and well-being of this vulnerable population.