MSU Flint-based researcher and dietitian presents new study at American Society for Nutrition annual meeting

June 12, 2018

FLINT, Mich. – Dr. Amy Saxe-Custack, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition in the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and nutrition director of the MSU-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative (PPHI), will present results from a new study at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting, Nutrition 2018, held June 9-12, 2018 in Boston.

Flint resident using food prescription at Flint's Farmers Market.

The new study Dr. Saxe-Custack will present shows that a fruit and vegetable prescription program can improve access to healthy foods for underserved children.

In August 2015, the Hurley Children’s Center - Sumathi Mukkamala Children’s Center, a residency training pediatric clinic associated with the MSU College of Human Medicine, relocated to the second floor of the downtown Flint Farmers’ Market. Immediately following, the clinic and the farmers’ market created a program to encourage families to shop at the farmers’ market by giving pediatric patients $15 prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables that can be redeemed at the market.

Flint is considered a food desert because of limited access to full-service grocery stores within city limits. About 60 percent of the city’s kids live in poverty, and many children don’t consume enough nutrient-dense foods while also eating too many poor-quality, calorie-dense foods.

Dr. Saxe-Custack said, “Fruit and vegetable intake tracks from childhood to adulthood, making it important for healthcare professionals to guide children towards healthy eating early on. We need to consider not only nutrition education but also barriers to access and affordability of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly in underserved areas. The prescription program is a first step to introducing fresh, high-quality produce to children.”

Dr. Saxe-Custack and her PPHI team recently received a $500,000 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to further their work. This grant will help to expand the prescription program in Flint and to evaluate its impact. With this funding, they will partner with Flint Fresh Mobile Market and allow families to redeem their prescriptions at either the Flint Farmers’ Market or at Flint Fresh Mobile Market, which includes online or telephone ordering of locally-grown produce boxes delivered directly to people who live or work in Flint. This expansion will help the researchers to create a model program that may be replicated in other areas.

Dr. Amy Saxe-Custack will present this research during the Community and Public Health Nutrition Challenges and Interventions on Tuesday, June 12 in Boston.

For more information about Dr. Saxe-Custack presentation visit

About Michigan State University-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative

In January 2016, Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital formed the Pediatric Public Health Initiative (PPHI) to address the Flint community’s population-wide lead exposure and help all Flint children grow up healthy and strong. The initiative brings together experts in pediatrics, child development, psychology, epidemiology, nutrition, toxicology, geography, education, and community and workforce development. Hurley Hospital is joined by MSU College of Human Medicine, MSU Extension, MSU College of Education and several other MSU Colleges. For more information visit:

About Nutrition 2018

Nutrition 2018 is the inaugural flagship meeting of the American Society for Nutrition held June 9-12, 2018 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. It is the national venue for more than 3,000 top researchers, practitioners and other professionals to announce exciting research findings and explore their implications for practice and policy. Scientific symposia address the latest advances in cellular and physiological nutrition and metabolism, clinical and translational nutrition, global and public health, population science, and food science and systems. #Nutrition2018.