SNAP programs at farmers markets improve fruit and vegetable consumption, study finds

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When farmers markets incentivize the use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, to purchase fruits and vegetables consumption raises. That shouldn’t come as a surprise but it’s always nice when data backs it up and also finds that farmers markets that incentivize the use of food stamps also do better economically.

Over two years, the Healthy Food Incentives Cluster Evaluation, looked at incentive programs at more than 500 farmers markets in 24 states and the District of Columbia to see if people using SNAP, which provides financial assistance to low-income families, would purchase healthier options.

The incentive programs at the farmers markets matched the dollars of SNAP spent on fruits and vegetables, so that an individual that spent $4 on fruits and vegetables would actually get $8 worth of produce. I first became aware of incentive programs thanks to a mobile market from Arcadia Center for Food and Agriculture.

The Healthy Food Incentives Cluster Evaluation focused on four non-profit organizations that ran the incentive programs, and while they found that consumption of fruits and vegetables rose overall, produce purchases rose by 80 percent at the Fair Food Network and Wholesome Wave programs.

The study also found that the incentive programs generated more than $4.3 million in economic activity and saved or created up to 47 jobs.

See the full post I wrote on the study for PBS NewsHour.

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