Qualitative Research in Phoenix, AZ, Exploring Support for Public–Private Partnerships to Expand the Reach of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

Jessie Gruner, Robin S. DeWeese, Bronwynne Evans, Marina Acosta-Ortiz, Meg Bruening, Kristi Mollner, Gina Lacagnina, Punam Ohri-Vachaspati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Fruit and vegetable (F/V) consumption among school-aged children falls short of current recommendations. The development of public–private partnerships (PPPs) has been suggested as an effective approach to address a number of public health concerns, including inadequate F/V consumption. The US Department of Agriculture's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) provides F/V as snacks at least twice per week in low-income elementary schools. In addition to increasing F/V consumption behaviors at school, children participating in the FFVP make more requests for F/V in grocery stores and at home, suggesting the impact of the program extends beyond school settings. Objective: This study explored the potential for establishing successful PPPs between schools and food retailers to promote the sales of F/V in low-income communities. Design: Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with participants from 4 groups of stakeholders. Participants/setting: Grocery store and produce managers from 10 grocery stores, FFVP personnel from 5 school districts and 12 schools, and parents of children attending 3 different FFVP-participating schools, all in the Phoenix, AZ, metropolitan area participated in interviews and focus groups. Statistical analyses performed: Data were analyzed using a directed content analysis approach to examine benefits, barriers, and strategies for developing a PPP. Results: Key perceived 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 and the potential lack of communication among partners. Strategies for developing a PPP included using seasonal produce and having clear instructions for teachers and staff. Parents reported their children requesting more F/V as a result of FFVP participation. Conclusions: Stakeholders support forming PPPs. Partnerships between FFVP schools and retailers can be mutually beneficial and have a positive impact on children and their families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1834-1846
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Fresh fruit and vegetable program
  • Grocery stores
  • Public–private partnerships
  • Qualitative research
  • Schools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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