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September 3, 2010

From the President: Americas More Matters Pledge and Fruit & Veggie Happenings Pages Now Live
USDA Healthy Incentives Pilot Conducted in Massachusetts
FDA Issues Guidance on Menu and Vending Labeling
Researchers Find Eating a Variety of Fruits and Veggies Could Reduce Lung Cancer Risk in Smokers
Diet Rich in Fruits & Veggies Shown to Lower Heart Attack Risk Almost 20%
Researchers Find a Tax on Sweetened Beverages Could Reduce Consumption
Agriculture Secretary Asks Schools to Participate in HealthierUS School Challenge
Let's Move Update: USDA Grants Plant Seeds of Good Nutrition with School Gardens
Website Poll: Fruits & Veggies on Vacation

From the President: Americas More Matters Pledge and Fruit & Veggie Happenings Pages Now Live

From PBH President and CEO Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D. 

National Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Month promises to be a very exciting time for the fruit and vegetable industry. The new America's More Matters Pledge: Fruits & Veggies … Today and Every Day! online pledge campaign is now live on the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters consumer website,! September marks the beginning of the pledge campaign, but it will continue into 2011. 

The America's More Matters Pledge offers a choice between three different promises that will increase the availability of fruits and veggies in schools, or on consumers' plates. These pledges will make a real difference in fruit and veggie consumption, and in the health of our nation. The Fruit & Veggie Happenings page offers readers and consumers the opportunity to upload information on fruit and veggie related activities such as cooking demonstrations, product sampling events, or contests, to generate more publicity. The information found here will help those who take the pledge to keep their promise to lead a healthier lifestyle. 

I encourage all of you to take a look at the promotional materials designed in support of the America's More Matters Pledge campaign. Three versions of this toolkit are now available on the PBH website, Click through to check out the retail toolkit, the supplier toolkit, and educator toolkit online. These toolkit materials are customizable and free of charge for the industry, educators, and members of the public health community. Check them out today and incorporate some or all of these materials into your planned promotions going into 2011. 

I'm excited to announce that the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters presence on Twitter has passed the milestone of reaching 2,000 Twitter followers! In addition to daily Twitter posts, PBH also has a presence on Facebook and has posted some of the videos from the Video Center and four PSAs on YouTube. PBH has been successful at using all three social media venues to drive traffic to PBH websites. I encourage readers to follow Fruits & Veggies—More Matters on Facebook or Twitter to get the latest news on America's More Matters Pledge: Fruits & Veggies … Today and Every Day! and everything else that's happening in September.

USDA Healthy Incentives Pilot Conducted in Massachusetts

PBH Direct! reported back in January about the USDA Healthy Incentives Pilot and now there is a new development. As background, the Food, Conservations and Energy Act of 2008 provided $20 million to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) for pilot projects to evaluate health and nutrition promotion in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. These funds were targeted toward supporting pilot projects that provide incentives at the point of purchase to encourage SNAP households to purchase fruits, vegetables, or other healthful foods, and toward conducting an evaluation that measures the impact of the pilot program on health and nutrition. 

In October of 2008, PBH participated in the Healthy Incentives Pilot Symposium on the promoting healthy food choices panel. The goal of the HIP Symposium was to prepare to conduct a pilot project providing incentives to SNAP households to encourage them to purchase fruits, vegetables, or other healthful foods.

In August, USDA announced that Hampden County, MA, will conduct the first-ever Healthy Incentives Pilot. The Healthy Incentives Pilot will enroll randomly selected SNAP households to receive these new incentives. For every dollar participants spend on fruits and vegetables using their SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, 30 cents will be added to their benefit balance - thus cutting the cost of fruits and vegetables by almost one-third. The evaluation will focus on whether incentives increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables in SNAP households and how participants' overall diets are affected. Researchers will also study the effects of these incentives on the State, retailers, and other SNAP stakeholders and assess the feasibility of implementing the pilot program nationwide.

PBH has high hopes of seeing a significant increase in fruit and vegetable consumption for those participating in this pilot program and, if that is the case, to then see it implemented nationally. Further updates on the progress of this pilot program will be passed along to PBH donors as they become available.

FDA Issues Guidance on Menu and Vending Labeling

In August, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration gave restaurants and vending machine operators initial guidance on how to label their wares in compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. This law requires restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to list calorie content information for standard menu items on restaurant menus and menu boards, including drive-through menu boards. The Act also requires vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines to disclose calorie content and may even apply in movie theaters and on airplanes. Most of the national menu labeling requirement is currently in effect and chain restaurants across the country are modifying menus and menu boards to comply with the law. Final guidance will be issued in December and enforcement will begin soon after. For more information see the FDA website.

Researchers Find Eating a Variety of Fruits and Veggies Could Reduce Lung Cancer Risk in Smokers

The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands has released a study suggesting that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of cancer especially among current smokers. The study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, from the American Association for Cancer Research.

Eating a colorful variety of fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables, including 100 percent juice, is an easy and positive step in helping to lead a healthy life. These findings, however, shouldn't give smokers free reign to light up after eating a healthy meal. The study's authors admit that the act with the strongest association with decreased lung cancer risk is to stop smoking.

Diet Rich in Fruits & Veggies Shown to Lower Heart Attack Risk Almost 20%

A new study published online in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes studied 436 people with high blood pressure or borderline hypertension who were not taking blood pressure medication. The diet they examined, called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, was designed to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Researchers say that following this diet plan reduced the risk of heart attack in study participants by almost 20 percent. 

The participants were assigned to either the DASH diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats; a typical American diet, low in important minerals and high in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol; or an American diet plus more fruits and vegetables. After eight weeks, the DASH dieters, who were eating nine to 11 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, had reduced their risk of heart attack 18 percent compared with those eating the American diet. They also saw their low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels reduced by about 7 percent and their systolic blood pressure lowered by 7 mm Hg. Those who ate the American diet plus extra fruits and vegetables reduced their risk of heart attack by 11 percent compared with those eating the usual American menu. 

Besides being rich in fruits and vegetables, the DASH diet also calls for reducing fats, red meat, sweets, and sugary beverages, and replacing them with whole grains, poultry, low-fat dairy products, fish, and nuts. This eating plan is recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association. For more information on this study and its outcomes, read this PDF. For more information on the DASH diet, visit the American Heart Association.

Researchers Find a Tax on Sweetened Beverages Could Reduce Consumption

USDA Economic Research Service analyzed the effects of a hypothetical tax on caloric sweetened soft drinks, fruit drinks, powdered mixes, energy, and sports drinks and found that a 20-percent tax on these beverages purchased from grocery stores and restaurants could trigger changes in consumption that would result in an average reduction of 37 calories a day for adults, which translates into a loss of 3.8 pounds of body weight over a year. The estimated decreases for children averaged 43 calories a day, or 4.5 pounds over a year. Researchers supposed that, faced with such a tax, consumers are likely to substitute untaxed beverages, such as bottled water, juice, and milk.

According to ERS calculations using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), during 1999-2004, American adults consumed an average of 21.6 teaspoons of added sugars a day and children (ages 2-19), 24.9 teaspoons a day. These amounts essentially exhaust the discretionary calorie allowance for a 2,400-calorie diet following the Guidelines, leaving no allowance for other foods. During the period, soft drinks and fruit drinks contributed 48 percent of added sugars to an average American child's diet and 47 percent of added sugars for adults. Sugar, jams, candies, and other sweets accounted for 15 and 16 percent of added sugars in the diets of adults and children, respectively, and desserts accounted for 17 and 14 percent. For more information on this study, visit the ERS website.

Agriculture Secretary Asks Schools to Participate in HealthierUS School Challenge

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is encouraging schools across the country to participate in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC), an initiative that helps improve the health and nutrition of children. USDA created the HUSSC to recognize schools that maintain healthy school environments by improving the quality of meals and increasing physical activity and nutrition education. The HUSSC is also a key component of first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. In February, Mrs. Obama called on stakeholders to double the number of HUSSC schools in a year and add 1,000 schools per year for two years after that. Currently about 800 HUSSC awards have been made to schools. 

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provides schools monetary incentives for earning HUSSC certification. FNS certifies schools in four categories: Gold of Distinction, Gold, Silver, or Bronze status. HUSSC schools receive $2,000 for a Gold Award of Distinction, $1,500 for Gold, $1,000 for Silver, and $500 for Bronze. FNS also offers an online HUSSC toolkit to provide schools a step-by-step guide on how to navigate the application process and provides schools with a range of educational and technical assistance materials that promote consumption of fruits and vegetables. Schools that earned HUSSC certification are listed by zip code on the Fruit & Veggie Happenings page on

Let's Move Update: USDA Grants Plant Seeds of Good Nutrition with School Gardens

Since first lady Michelle Obama planted a garden at the White House and invited schoolchildren to help tend it, more school gardens have been sprouting up across the country. Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced $1 million in grants for high-poverty schools to start community gardens. The goal of the program is to teach students about gardening and nutrition and to provide fresh produce for school meals. Some of the harvest may also be given to students' families, as well as to local food banks and senior-center nutrition programs.

For more information on these new grants, visit USDA's Food and Nutrition Service website. For more about the Let's Move initiative, visit the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Let's Move page of the
Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® website.

Website Poll: Fruits & Veggies on Vacation

An ongoing poll remains available on the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters website that provides, not only an entertaining game for the visitors, but also a way to gather useful information about visitors and content for future updates. A recent poll asked about fruit & vegetable consumption while on vacation. From this, PBH can determine which barriers to consumption should be addressed in online content and media outreach.

The question specifically asked, “How do you get fruits & veggies while on vacation?” and asked responders to select from the responses Cook most meals, Salad as the main course, Order a fruit/veggie side dish, or I don't, it's too hard. Out of 103 poll responders, 43 percent (44) said that they order a fruit or veggie side dish, 28 percent (29) said they eat a salad as their main course, 22 percent (23) said they cook most meals, and only 7 percent (7) said it's too hard to fit fruits and vegetables into their meals while on vacation.

New poll questions will look to website visitors for information about their lifestyles and their current level of understanding of the importance of fruits and vegetables, driving new enhancements to the website. These polls have proved to be quite useful as they, along with many other forms of user feedback, have resulted in significant website additions and enhancements. For more information about the surveys or their results, contact PBH Nutrition Website Development Manager Sandra Ely.

PBH is pleased to recognize the following companies as leaders in the fruit and vegetable industry and thanks them for their support. Their generous contributions help make possible PBH's many activities to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. PBH thanks all current and new donors who have contributed to the foundation from Aug. 17, 2010 through Aug. 31, 2010. Together we can make a difference in the nation's fruit and vegetable consumption. To find out how you can support PBH, and grow your business in the process, contact PBH West Coast Fund Development Director Jennifer Armen-Bolen or PBH East Coast Fund Development Director Renee Bullion.

New Board of Trustee Companies:
Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc.

Returning Trustees ($10,000+ Annual Contribution):
McDonald's Corporation

Returning Donors:
American Soy Products, Inc.
Blanc Industries
Ciruli Brothers
Coast To Coast Produce, L.L.C.
Gold Coast Packing, Inc.
R.S. Hanline & Company
Jack Mall Potato Company, Inc.
Paramount Farms
Rigby Produce, Inc.
Sakata Seed America, Inc.
Sterilox Food Safety
TexaSweet Citrus Marketing, Inc.
Tony Vitrano Company
Turbana Corporation
William H. Kopke, Jr., Inc.


About Our Sponsor: Syngenta

Syngenta supports growers with outstanding seed genetics; products to protect growing crops from weeds, insects and diseases; and technologies to guard produce from disease during processing and distribution. Visit Syngenta's Web site for more information.


For more information, contact Kristen Stevens.

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