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Farmers' Market Coupons Up Produce Purchases for Poor

Incentive program both improves access and increases purchases of fruits and vegetables

FRIDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Health Bucks, a farmers' market incentive coupon program, increases access to produce in low-income communities, according to research published online Aug. 29 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Preventing Chronic Disease.

Gayle Holmes Payne, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues evaluated the Health Bucks program implementation through interviews with six farmer/vendors, three market managers, and four program administrators. Data were collected for 86 farmers' markets through surveys of 81 managers and 141 farmer/vendors.

The researchers found that respondents reported a positive view of the Health Bucks program model. The program was associated with higher fruit and vegetable access and purchases in low-income communities. Incentive coupon programs for farmers' markets may be an effective strategy to address obesity and access to produce in low-income communities.

"This evaluation identified some areas for improving implementation of the Health Bucks program. Farmers' market incentive programs like Health Bucks may be one avenue to increase access to and affordability of fruits and vegetables among low-income persons," the authors write. "Further research is needed to assess the potential effects of these programs on access and health outcomes."

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