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P2 Benefits of Farmers' Markets for Food Access: Results from a Needs Assessment in a Rural Southern County

      Background

      For a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention obesity prevention grant, a needs assessment was conducted in a rural Southern county with 40% adult obesity. The purpose of the grant was to reduce adult obesity rates through community interventions designed to improve access to healthy foods.

      Objective

      The objective was to identify barriers and facilitators for access to healthy foods.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants

      Adult county residents were recruited to complete surveys and participate in focus groups. Professionals were recruited for key informant interviews.

      Measurable Outcome/Analysis

      The survey included questions about access to healthy foods such as local availability and gardening. Descriptive statistics were used to examine survey data. Focus group and interview questions included perceived availability of healthy foods. Focus groups and interviews were transcribed verbatim. Two researchers coded the transcripts and developed themes using inductive content analysis.

      Results

      In summary, 1,085 surveys, 9 focus groups with 61 adults, and 25 interviews were completed. Focus group participants identified the county's 2 Farmers’ Markets as community assets for healthy food, especially for residents who lived in the communities where the markets were located. A major theme was the importance of supporting local businesses such as Farmers’ Markets and farmers. Over half of survey respondents (55%) reported buying fruits and vegetables at these markets. There were differences in reasons why survey respondents and focus group participants did not shop at the Farmers’ Markets. For survey respondents, the biggest barrier was that the markets were not open during the times they grocery shop (26.7%). For qualitative interviews, participants identified lack of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) acceptance, distance, and lack of variety as major barriers for not shopping at the Farmers’ Markets.

      Conclusions

      These results indicate that Farmers’ Markets can provide access to fruits and vegetables for small communities; however, economic and environmental barriers can limit market usage by limited-resource consumers.
      Funding: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      Appendix. Supplementary data