Urban Farmers Markets as a Strategy to Increase Access to and Consumption of Fresh Vegetables among SNAP and Non-SNAP Participants
Results from an Evaluation
Inadequate access to healthy foods is an important determinant of dietary intake among low-income populations in the United States. This study reports the results of an evaluation of two urban farmers markets in metro Atlanta, which received funding to implement Electronic Benefits Transfer card readers to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as a form of payment. In Spring 2013, 179 farmers market customers completed self-administered paper surveys to assess the extent to which they received SNAP benefits, their patterns of using the market, and their self-reported changes in access to and consumption of fresh vegetables as a result of the markets. Results indicate that 28% of surveyed customers received SNAP benefits; however, only 20% of SNAP recipients reported that they were from the immediately surrounding community (1 mile away or less). Among returning customers, 74.2% strongly agreed that the markets made it easier to purchase fresh vegetables, and 64.5% reported eating more fresh vegetables as a result of the markets. Results suggest that market customers perceive that the farmers markets increase their access to and consumption of fresh vegetables, particularly among SNAP recipients. However, greater outreach is needed to members of the immediately surrounding community, many of whom receive SNAP and may benefit from increased access to the produce sold at the farmers markets.
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