Incentivizing Fruit and Vegetable Purchasers at Fresh Markets in Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans

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OBJECTIVE: Disparities in fruit and vegetable consumption have been observed across income and race-ethnicity and shown to be associated with both access to fresh food venues and price. This study assesses the feasibility of increasing produce consumption by incentivizing fruit and vegetable purchases at local markets. DESIGN: We conducted analyses of a cross-sectional survey of program participants and point-of-sale reports on fruit and vegetable purchases at the fresh food markets. SETTING: Five fresh food markets in the Lower Ninth Ward (LNW) of New Orleans, Louisiana. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 176 participants were enrolled in the "Veggie Dollars" program (VDP). INTERVENTION: From January to July 2016, Sankofa, our community partner, recruited patrons at its markets into the VDP, a fresh food incentive program. Participants received coupons worth $4 per week for fruit and vegetables over a six-week period. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Total monthly gross, VDP, and SNAP benefit sales at the markets measured program participation. A survey (N=96) assessed the demographics and fruit and vegetable purchasing practices of participants. RESULTS: Participants were predominantly women (81%), African American (94%) and raising children at home (53%). Point-of-sales data indicated that VDP sales nearly doubled over the intervention period. Total market sales and SNAP benefit purchases also increased. The majority (63%) of VDP participants reported their produce purchases increased and 89% reported increasing their consumption of fruit and vegetables since entering the program. CONCLUSIONS: Monetary incentives were associated with increased fruit and vegetable purchases at local fresh food markets in a low-income minority community.

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Ethnicity & disease

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