Impacts of a farmers' market incentive programme on fruit and vegetable access, purchase and consumption

Lauren Ew Olsho, Gayle Holmes Payne, Deborah Klein Walker, Sabrina Baronberg, Jan Jernigan, Alyson Abrami
Public Health Nutrition 2015, 18 (15): 2712-21

OBJECTIVE: The present study examines the impact of Health Bucks, a farmers' market incentive programme, on awareness of and access to farmers' markets, and fruit and vegetable purchase and consumption in low-income New York City neighbourhoods.

DESIGN: The evaluation used two primary data collection methods: (i) an on-site point-of-purchase survey of farmers' market shoppers; and (ii) a random-digit-dial telephone survey of residents in neighbourhoods where the programme operates. Additionally, we conducted a quasi-experimental analysis examining differential time trends in consumption before and after programme introduction using secondary Community Health Survey (CHS) data.

SETTING: New York City farmers' markets and communities.

SUBJECTS: Farmers' market shoppers (n 2287) completing point-of-purchase surveys in a representative sample of New York City farmers' markets in 2010; residents (n 1025) completing random-digit-dial telephone survey interviews in 2010; and respondents (n 35 606) completing CHS interviews in 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2009.

RESULTS: Greater Health Bucks exposure was associated with: (i) greater awareness of farmers' markets; (ii) increased frequency and amount of farmers' market purchases; and (iii) greater likelihood of a self-reported year-over-year increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. However, our CHS analysis did not detect impacts on consumption.

CONCLUSIONS: While our study provides promising evidence that use of farmers' market incentives is associated with increased awareness and use of farmers' markets, additional research is needed to better understand impacts on fruit and vegetable consumption.

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