Sisters in Health


A Program to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption among Low Income Women

Sisters in Health – A Nutrition Program for Women is a research-based and community-grounded food and nutrition education program that encourages women with limited incomes to eat and enjoy more fruits and vegetables through active experiences with foods in a positive social setting.

Background: Sisters in Health was based on formative research among low to moderate income, ethnically-diverse adults living in Upstate New York. That study revealed that life experiences such as involvement in growing, preparing or tasting food in positive settings, development of food preparation skills, and social roles provided groundwork for subsequent food choices. Sisters in Health emphasizes enjoying and learning how to choose and prepare delicious fruits and vegetables that all family members like.

Objective:  The primary program objective is that participants will be able to increase their own consumption of vegetable and fruit servings to the recommended five or more each day.

Target Audience: Sisters in Health has been implemented and evaluated in 22 counties in New York State. Young to middle-aged low-income women are the intended target audience. The program has proven effective with women who are experiencing life transitions such as a return to school or work and who are enrolled in community or nutrition education programs. Successful participants in the program have been involved with Graduate Equivalency Degree (GED), Head Start, Food Stamp Nutrition Education, and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education programs. 

Bottom Line

This program demonstrated that a research-based nutrition education program, focused on eating and preparing delicious fruits and vegetables in a positive social setting, could increase fruit and vegetable consumption among a variety of low-income women. Further, we learned that busy women with demanding lives would participate in group meetings if they were fun and incorporated active learning. For facilitators this program provided support for an educational model that facilitated positive food experiences in a relaxed and supportive social setting.