Introduction: We evaluated whether Philly Food Bucks, a bonus incentive program at farmers markets, is associated with increased fruit and vegetable consumption and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) sales at farmers markets in low-income areas.
Methods: A convenience sample of 662 customers at 22 farmers markets in low-income neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was surveyed via face-to-face interviews. Questions addressed shopping characteristics, self-reported change in fruit and vegetable consumption, whether customers tried new fruits or vegetables, use of Philly Food Bucks, and demographic information. Market-level SNAP sales and Philly Food Bucks redemption data were also collected to monitor sales patterns.
Results: Philly Food Bucks users were significantly more likely than nonusers to report increasing fruit and vegetable consumption (OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.6-3.7; P < .001) and to report trying new fruits or vegetables (OR 1.8; 95% CI, 1.2-2.7; P = .006). At the market level, average SNAP sales more than doubled at farmers markets in low-income areas in the first 2 years of the Philly Food Bucks program. At the city's largest farmers market in a low-income area, the program was associated with an almost 5-fold higher increase in annual SNAP sales compared with baseline.
Conclusion: Results from this study demonstrate that a bonus incentive program tied to SNAP was associated with self-reported increases in fruit and vegetable consumption and increased SNAP sales at participating farmers markets in low-income communities. More research is warranted to evaluate the long-term impact of bonus incentives on farmers market use, dietary behaviors, and health outcomes.