Increasing Access to Farmers Markets for Beneficiaries of Nutrition Assistance: Evaluation of the Farmers Market Access Project
Published Date:Oct 03 2013
Source:Prev Chronic Dis. 10.
Pubmed Central ID:PMC3804120
Funding:1U58DP002423/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
Increased acceptance of nutrition benefits at farmers markets could improve access to nutritious foods for low-income shoppers. The objective of this study was to evaluate a pilot project to increase participation by farmers markets and their vendors in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
The intervention targeted 9 markets in lower-income regions of King County, Washington. Markets and vendors were offered subsidized electronic benefits transfer (EBT) terminals for processing SNAP, and vendors could apply to accept WIC cash value vouchers. WIC staff received information on using SNAP and vouchers at farmers markets. We used mixed methods post-implementation to measure participation, describe factors in acceptance of benefits, and assess information needs for WIC staff to conduct effective outreach.
Of approximately 88 WIC-eligible vendors, 38 agreed to accept vouchers. Ten of 125 vendors installed an EBT terminal, and 6 markets installed a central market terminal. The number of market stalls accepting SNAP increased from 80 to 143, an increase of 79%. Participating vendors wanted to provide access to SNAP and WIC shoppers, although redemption rates were low. Some WIC staff members were unfamiliar with markets, which hindered outreach.
Vendors and markets value low-income shoppers and, when offered support, will take on some inconvenience to serve them. To improve participation and sustainability, we recommend ongoing subsidies and streamlined procedures better suited to meet markets’ capabilities. Low EBT redemption rates at farmers markets suggest a need for more outreach to low-income shoppers and relationship building with WIC staff.
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