Little research exists about the factors influencing the foods available at family meals. This study examines the home food environment factors contributing to the presence of fruit and vegetables at family meals.
Home food inventory (HFI) and survey data were collected from low-income, minority families (n = 120) with children 6–12 years old. Observations from video-recorded family dinner meals, totaling 800 videos, were used to measure the frequency at which fruit and vegetables were served. Multiple regression was used to investigate how the fruit and vegetables in the HFI and other home food environment factors were related to the number of days fruit and vegetables were served at dinner during the observation period.
Availability and accessibility of fruit and vegetables in the home were each found to be significantly associated with the presence of fruits and vegetables at family dinners. Of the fruit and vegetable categories (i.e., fresh, canned, or frozen), having fresh fruit and vegetables available in the home was found to be most strongly associated with serving fruit and vegetables at dinner, respectively. Higher parent intake of vegetables was associated with the presence of vegetables at dinners, and parent meal planning was associated with the presence of fruit at dinners.
Increasing the availability and accessibility of fresh fruit and vegetables in the home may be an effective approach to increasing the presence of fruits and vegetables at family dinners, especially among low-income, minority households. It is also essential to understand why families are not using all fruits and vegetables (e.g., canned and frozen) available in the home for family meals. Family meals are a place to promote the increased presence of both fruit and vegetables.