Why Produce?

For nearly 35 years, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida has worked to alleviate local hunger by helping close the meal gap between the need for food assistance and the amount of food available.

A focus of Second Harvest is the impact that the foods we distribute to low-income households have on the individual’s overall health and well-being. Fresh produce is a key component to our food distribution. In addition, we are committed to maintaining an inventory containing at least 75% of Feeding America’s recommended Foods to Encourage to provide a variety of nutritious foods for distribution to our network of 550 feeding partners. 

Many research studies show that a positive relationship exists between fruit and vegetable intake and health outcomes across the lifespan, including the prevention and management of chronic disease.

For example, young children who regularly consume foods that are low in nutrition suffer negative consequences such as slowed physical and cognitive development.  They also tend to have more absences from school due to illness.

Healthy eating during adolescence is important as changes during this time affect an individual’s nutritional and dietary needs.  Many adolescents experience a growth spurt and an increase in appetite which require need healthy foods to meet their needs.

As it relates to seniors, emerging evidence indicates that fruit and vegetable intake is protective against cognitive decline and related conditions.  Older adults who maintain physical function and avoid falls are less likely to be hospitalized or institutionalized and may have reduced risk of injury and mortality.

Because of these trends, Second Harvest is incorporating fresh produce into many of its programs, including School Markets and mobile food drops.

Learn more about Second Harvest’s role in community health at www.feedhopenow.org/nutrition.

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