Objective: There is little evidence of how fruit and vegetable (FV) household food availability changes over a one-month period among low-income households. The objective of this study was to analyze how FV variety and sustainability changes over a 4-week period.
Design: Inventories were conducted in low-income family households (n=49) once a week over a 4-week period. Trained researchers gathered the weights of all FV, including legumes, within the home. Previously determined mean container weights were subtracted to obtain the estimated weight of the FV. All weights were then converted to edible cups of FV, taking into account the weight that is removed when stems, peels, skins, and canning liquid are removed.
Analysis: Variety was measured by analyzing the number of kinds of FV within the USDA subgroups (100% fruit juice, citrus fruits, other fruits, dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, dry beans and peas, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) found in the home. In addition, sustainability was analyzed by the number of days into the future at which households can meet 100% of the FV recommendations. Data were combined for all households, according to the time points with the most amount of FV (HFV), the second-most amount of FV, the third-most amount of FV, and the least amount of FV (LFV) available in the household.
Results: Vegetables, specifically canned vegetables, comprised the majority of all measurements taken throughout all inventories. When combined, the kinds of total FV decreased significantly from 25±1.1 kinds on HFV to 21.2±1.1 kinds on LFV (p<.0001). Days into the future at 100% of the fruit recommendation fell significantly from 11.4±0.1 days on HFV to 7.1±0.1 days on LFV (p<.0001). Total vegetables decreased significantly from 25.3±0.1 days on HFV to 19.1±0.1 days on LFV (p<.0001). Even at the peak of FV availability, dark green vegetables remained the lowest subgroup at 2.17±0.1 days and decreased to 1.6±0.1 days at LFV (p=0.01).
Conclusions and Implications: Low-income households have greater variety of FV during the times when they have the most food resources compared to when they have the least food resources. The days into the future that the household FV supply could be maintained at 100% of the USDA's subgroup recommendation varies widely between subgroups, from about two days up to more than one month. Further research is needed to determine how to maintain subgroup variety and constancy of a FV supply throughout the month for low-income FV.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science



Date Submitted


Document Type





Low-income families, household food inventories, fruit and vegetable availability, fruit and vegetable variety