Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Health Promotion

First Committee Member

Courtney Parks, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth Lyden, M.S.

Third Committee Member

Claire Koukol, D.D.S.


More than half of young people in the U.S. aged 2-19 have a poor-quality diet, including low fruit and vegetable (FV) intake (Liu et al., 2020). Poor nutrition increases health risks, including chronic diseases such as dental caries and obesity, low-income households experience higher rates of poor nutrition and subsequent health burdens (AAPD, 2022b). Produce prescriptions (PPR) are a type of financial incentive program that can improve FV intake among low-income populations (Ridberg et al., 2019). PPR programs are often conducted in a primary medical setting (Little et al., 2022); however, no literature describes PPR programs conducted in a dental setting. The aim of this study was to conduct a nutrition needs assessment in a pediatric dental setting to inform a future PPR program. A cross-sectional needs assessment survey was conducted from June 1st to Aug 17th, 2023, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) Pediatric Dental Clinic. One hundred low-income parents or guardians completed the survey during their child’s dental appointment. Survey data included household demographics, benefits received, FV intake, food and nutrition security, barriers to FV consumption, and general health. Participants’ attitudes toward FV intake, PPR programs, and nutrition education were also recorded. Participants’ greatest FV intake barrier was cost, followed by accessibility, family preferences, and FV preparation time. Almost half (45%) of the study population experienced some level of food insecurity and more than half (55%) of the study population who received food benefits were food insecure. Participants who received Medicaid plus food benefits were more likely to experience low or very low food security than those who received Medicaid only, X2 (1, N = 98) = 6.06, p = .014. Most study participants said they would participate in a PPR program (80%) and nutrition education classes (81%). These findings support the consideration of a future PPR program to be conducted through the UNMC Pediatric Dental Clinic or other similar pediatric dental settings.

Available for download on Sunday, November 30, 2025