By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

A Texas-based program that delivers locally grown fruits and vegetables to workplaces could help prevent diet-related chronic diseases, according to a Texas Department of State Health Services study.

In the study, published Thursday in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, employees at 41 workplaces could order a $10 to $25 produce basket online weekly or biweekly through the Farm to Work program. Local farmers delivered 12- to 15-pound baskets of vegetables, fruits and herbs directly to worksites.

Nearly 38,000 baskets worth more than $850,000 were sold during the five-year study that ended in December 2012. More workplaces joined the study each year and included 22 government worksites, nine from private industry, six nonprofits and four education worksites.

The program could improve the health of employees by increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and could also create new business opportunities for farmers, researchers said.

Texas adults ate a median 1.6 servings of fruits and 1 serving of vegetables per day in 2011, according to the study, far less than what would qualify as the overall heart-healthy diet recommended by the American Heart Association.

The Farm to Work program is supported by the Austin-based nonprofit Sustainable Food Center, the Texas Department of State Health Services and web development company WebChronic Consulting LLC. A grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded the program’s launch in November 2007.