Moffitt Cancer Center, Commissioner Putnam Announce Partnership Examining Link Between Food Deserts, Children and Cancer

January 20, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Moffitt Cancer Center President & CEO Alan F. List, M.D. and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced today a new research collaboration aimed at fighting growing concerns with Florida’s food deserts and how limited access to a diet rich in fresh fruits vegetables and whole grains can impact on a person’s risk of developing cancer, the leading cause of death in the state. 

The one-of-a-kind research will focus on Florida’s schools, evaluating the diet and food intake of children, ages 9-14, who live in areas with abundant access to fresh fruits and vegetables compared to those who live in communities with limited access to fresh healthful options. The results will help Moffitt and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services build cancer prevention strategies and interventions based on the needs of specific populations and communities in Florida. 

Our ultimate goal is to reduce the burden of cancer in the state of Florida. This new research collaboration will focus on reducing this burden starting at a young age,” said List. “Florida is the top producer of more than 50 super fruits and vegetables that are currently being tested in labs, including ours, for its ability to prevent and treat cancer and other major diseases. Using that knowledge and the data received from our new research study, we will have the tools to make a lasting impact here in Florida.” 

The research study, led by Nagi B. Kumar, Ph.D., R.D., F.A.D.A, director of Nutrition Research at Moffitt, will utilize the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Roadmap to Living Healthy, a multi-layered mapping system that uses data to illustrate assets and gaps in health and nutrition services so that resources can be more effectively allocated and accessed. This system will be used to identify the study areas, as well as assist with data collection and promotion. 

“We look forward to this research collaboration with Moffitt in order to more closely examine the correlation between food deserts and cancer,” said Commissioner Adam H. Putnam. “Florida produces an abundance of fruits and vegetables, and a healthy diet is a crucial component of living a healthy life.” 

Today’s announcement was part of the 11th annual Moffitt Day, which brings together more than 75 volunteers, including patients, caregivers, physicians and researchers to the State Capitol in support of Moffitt. Advocates meet with lawmakers and share Moffitt’s mission to eradicate cancer and ask for continued state support for Florida’s premier cancer center. 

Moffitt is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida. The cancer center’s survivorship rates beat the national average in brain, breast, liver, lung, myeloma, pancreas and prostate cancers, giving Floridians their best chance for beating cancer. Moffitt is also committed to educating the next generation of Florida-trained physicians, scientists and health care professionals. Moffitt trains more students in the field of oncology than all other Florida institutions, with more than 1,800 student rotations annually. 

*Find Moffitt Day digital media kit here. 

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Located in Tampa, Moffitt is one of only 45 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, its contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the top-ranked cancer hospital in Florida and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer care since 1999. With more than 5,000 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $1.9 billion. For more information, visit, and follow the Moffitt momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.