About 5 A Day

History of the Produce for Better Health Foundation

5 A Day: A Historical Perspective

The 5 A Day for Better Health program is a national nutrition education initiative, sponsored by the Produce for Better Health Foundation, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and an expanding base of other health-oriented non-profits, government agencies, and businesses. The 5 A Day program's mission is to increase consumption to an average of 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The Foundation's mission is to be the catalyst for creating a healthier America through increased consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables.  The Foundation is chair of the National 5 A Day Partnership, consisting of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and industry working in collaboration to expand 5 A Day efforts to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables for improved public health.

To increase the national average fruit and vegetable consumption from the current 4.4 servings to 5 servings a day, the Foundation partners with organizations and volunteers across the country to implement 5 A Day programs in each state. Research has shown that a diet low in fat, high in fiber, and rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other diseases. More than 500,000 Americans die of cancer each year. However, one-third of these cancer deaths could have been prevented by a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. The U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health (1988) found that two-thirds of all deaths are related to diet. The nation's leading health organizations -- including the U.S. Surgeon General, NCI, American Cancer Society, and American Heart Association -- agree that Americans should eat more fruits and vegetables to reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and other diseases.

In 1988, with a grant from NCI, the State of California Department of Health Services developed a program to educate Californians on the need to eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. As a result of the successful California 5 A Day program, health officials and members of the fruit and vegetable industry decided to make 5 A Day a national program. The Produce for Better Health Foundation was incorporated as an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) consumer education organization.

In 1991, at the Produce Marketing Association Convention & Exposition in Boston, Massachusetts, the national 5 A Day for Better Health program was launched. The 5 A Day program became the first national health promotion focusing on the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables.

NCI agreed to serve as public sector sponsor of the national program. As the world's leading authority on cancer research, prevention, and control, NCI awarded grants to researchers to determine the best strategies to change eating behavior. NCI develops publications, programs, and media communications to educate consumers about 5 A Day. Through NCI's network of 5 A Day state coordinators, 5 A Day programs are implemented at the local level.
The Foundation and NCI work together with more than 1,800 organizations across the nation to promote 5 A Day. These partners include: the Centers for Disease Control, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Dietetic Association (ADA), the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, the American School Food Service Association, and others. 

The Foundation works closely with members of the fruit and vegetable industry by offering programs, and by licensing use of the 5 A Day logo. More than 35,000 retail stores participate in 5 A Day. By applying the logo to products, displays, and advertisements, members of the fruit and vegetable industry educate consumers about the need to eat more fruits and vegetables.

The Foundation also provides children's education programs, employee worksite programs, and foodservice programs. Ten companies receive 5 A Day National Excellence Awards for their efforts to educate their employees and the community about eating more fruits and vegetables. In addition, the Foundation educates public health officials on the importance of placing fruits and vegetables first in the nation's nutrition policies. The Foundation's website provides a variety of fruit and vegetable nutrition information as well as downloadable text, graphics, photos, and recipes. The www.aboutproduce.com website, a collaboration with the Produce Marketing Association, serves as the go-to source for consumers to learn about fruits and vegetables. The 5 A Day Catalog offers educational items, promotional materials, publications, and merchandise. Every year, the Foundation gives an Excellence in Dietary Guidance award to an individual whose extraordinary efforts have established policy and programs to reach 5 A Day. September is National 5 A Day Month focusing the country on the need to eat more fruits and vegetables. Overall, thousands of 5 A Day events, promotions, and seminars are held each year in communities across the nation.

ADA awarded the Foundation with the President's Circle Award in 1994. The prestigious annual award recognizes premier nutrition education programs. In March of 2000, the Foundation received special recognition on the Associations Advance America Honor Roll as a result of a national awards competition sponsored by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), of Washington, DC. The Foundation received two national awards for its 5 A Day Across the USA tour and publication of the "Year Dietary Guidelines 2000: The Case for Fruits and Vegetables First" research booklet. 

The 5 A Day Across the USA tour brought the 5 A Day message to consumers through a series of special events in supermarkets, corporations, schools, state capitols, and other venues in cities nationwide. The "Year Dietary Guidelines 2000: The Case for Fruits and Vegetables First" document provides a comprehensive summary of the effect fruits and vegetables have on diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, birth defects, osteoporosis, and other illnesses. The document is an outgrowth of the Fruits and Vegetables First Symposium and press conference held February 23, 1999 in Washington, DC. The symposium, press conference, and research document served as a catalyst in securing a separate guideline for fruits and vegetables in the 2000 Dietary Guidelines for Americans released May 30, 2000.  This research document has been updated in 2002.  Look to The Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables: A Scientific Overview for Health Professionals for updated nutrition research information.

The 5 A Day program continues to be one of the nation's leading nutrition education programs.