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


A new study finds SNAP programs at farmers markets help local economies. Photo by Abhijit Tembhekar

When farmers markets incentivize the use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, the consumption of fruits and vegetables raises, a new health study finds.
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.

Four non-profit organizations 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.

Community Science, with funding from Aetna Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kaiser Permanente, National Network of Public Health Institutes and Open Society Foundation, conducted the study.

H/T Bridget Shirvell