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Soulful Choices: Improving Foods Served in African American-Owned Restaurants

Diana L. Cassady, DrPH, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, TB 168, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616-8683, (530)754-5550, dlcassady@ucdavis.edu and Karen Jetter, PhD, Agricultural Issues Center, U.C. Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95816.

There is a growing acknowledgement that the environment is an important influence on dietary practices. It is not only the low availability of healthier foods that constrains their consumption, but also the price when healthier foods cost more. Therefore, low availability may reflect consumer preference or need for the lower priced food items. Restaurants are an important part of the food environment since an increasing percentage of the family food budget is spent on food away from home. This project sought to determine if increasing the number of healthy entrees offered in African American-owned restaurants in low-income neighborhoods increased the choice of those healthier entrees. The Soulful Choices project worked with restaurant owners in South Central Los Angeles to increase the availability of entrees that were lower in fat and higher in fruit and vegetable servings. The research aim was to demonstrate change in at least three entrees as measured by sales and price data collected for one year. In exchange, the owners were offered free advertising and consultation with a dietitian. Of 14 family-owned restaurants invited to join the project, 6 agreed. Problems collecting sales data eliminated three of the restaurants. Results from the three participating restaurants will be presented, along with suggestions on working with small restaurants to promote healthier options. Results of a related project in neighborhood grocery stores that aimed to increase consumer demand for fruits and vegetables will also be reported. Lessons about conducting research in both types of retail food outlets will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Environment, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Addressing Disparities in Nutrition and Physical Activity Through Environmental Change

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA