By Elizabeth Kimball, Healthy Eating, Active Living Program Manager
Public Health, in conjunction with researchers at the University of Washington, performed a study to test the efficacy of three programs designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among residents of the South Seattle/South King County area. You can read the full article here, but the big take-away is this: the Fresh Bucks program gets people to eat more fruits and veggies.
A little bit about Fresh Bucks and the other food access programs in the study
- Fresh Bucks participants are given incentives through the SNAP program to make purchases at farmers markets. SNAP funds spent are matched (up to $10) with currency that can be used to purchase fruits and veggies.
- Mobile neighborhood farm stands are open to all income levels, but the stands are located in lower income areas. Farm stands sell wholesale or discounted produce.
- Good Food Bags are grocery bags filled with four discounted produce items – a $10 value sold for $5 – and are available for purchase at locations like senior and child care centers.
The good news about all three programs
All programs studied were designed to improve access to fruits and vegetables in communities with limited access to affordable produce options. And, they all achieved that goal! The people who used those programs like them, and the programs provided a substantial portion of the produce participants consumed. The more people accessed the programs, the more fruits and veggies they ate!
But, Fresh Bucks takes the cake… err… carrot
Of all the programs studied, Fresh Bucks participants ate more fruits and veggies, and more than 60% of the produce participants purchased came from Fresh Bucks. Fresh Bucks is available exclusively to SNAP participants, so participants also reported the lowest income across the three programs. Fresh Bucks participants mentioned affordability as a key reason for accessing the program, indicating that this program may uniquely address financial barriers for shoppers interested in purchasing healthier foods.
Bottom line: affordability matters. When low income shoppers shop more frequently at farmers markets, they eat more fruits and veggies. But, farmers markets have a reputation for being pricey. The Fresh Bucks program makes it easy to buy more produce ($20 value for $10) and also gives consumers the option of buying the fruits and veggies they already like.
Originally posted December 10, 2018