AIC Research Economics Karen Jetter published a new article, “Yes We Can: Eating Healthy on a Limited Budget” in the March 2019 Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
Karen M. Jetter, Jennymae Adkins, Susie Cortez, Gesford Kane Hopper Jr, Vicki Shively, and Dennis M. Styne. 2019. Yes We Can: Eating Healthy on a Limited Budget. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 51 (3): 268-276
Objective: This study determined how people who live in low-income households can consume an affordable, nutritious diet.
Design: A community-based participatory research (CBPR) project was completed that developed and priced 2 weeks of healthy menus that met US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Prices were collected from a market basket survey of 13 stores in the city of Chico during October, 2010. Initial menu development began in 2011−2012. Menus were reviewed in 2017 and reflect current guidelines.
Setting: Chico, CA.
Main Outcome Measures: Macro dietary objectives including the caloric content and servings of fat, sugar, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. The cost of purchasing the market basket of goods for a family of 4 that achieved those objectives was determined.
Results: The 2 weeks of menus all met dietary objectives on average. The daily cost varied from $19 to $31 when food was purchased from a bulk supermarket, with an average daily cost of $25. Average monthly cost was $756 in 2010 dollars, or $838 in 2015 dollars.
Conclusions and Implications: People living in low-income households can afford to eat healthily. Using CBPR principles, daily targets, and technical support, public health partners can partner with community members for member-defined solutions that are affordable and meet dietary guidelines. Access to stores that sell low-price bulk items is important to being able to afford a healthy diet.