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Financial Incentive Can Up Fruit, Vegetable Purchases

For recipients of food assistance, implementation of monetary incentive ups revenue at farmers' market

THURSDAY, June 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- An intervention to increase fruit and vegetable purchases at farmers' markets for recipients of food assistance (Shop N Save [SNS]) correlates with a significant increase in use of food assistance at the farmers' market, according to a study published online May 22 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Preventing Chronic Disease.

Darcy A. Freedman, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods in Cleveland, and colleagues examined the influence of SNS on revenue trends at a farmers' market located at a federally qualified health center in rural South Carolina. As part of the intervention, SNS provided a $5 monetary incentive per week to customers spending $5 or more in food assistance at the farmers' market. SNS was available to all customers using vouchers from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and/or the Senior or WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). Revenue trends were compared for 20 weeks before and after the intervention.

The researchers found that most of the 336 SNS participants were patients at the health center, female, and African-American. After the intervention, the use of all forms of food assistance (SNAP, WIC, and FMNP) increased significantly at the farmers' market, from 10 percent before to 25 percent after (P = 0.003). The greatest increases were seen for use of senior FMNP vouchers and SNAP.

"Interventions that provide incentives to recipients of food assistance programs at farmers' markets are a viable strategy for increasing food assistance usage and revenue," the authors write.

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