A study done by the University of Wyoming and a food justice non-profit seems to indicate that farmers market coupon programs for low-income people can improve fruit and vegetable consumption.
The study compared three groups of participants; these all received $80 in coupons to spend over five weeks at the farmers market. One group didn't receive their coupons until the end, one group's coupons only worked for fruits and vegetables, and the final group could use their coupons on anything eligible through the SNAP program.
Christine Porter, UW professor and one of the study's authors, said all groups were surveyed before and after the study and they all improved food security and their fruit and vegetable consumption.
"So the people who got fruit and vegetable coupons, both were recorded as buying more fruits and the survey showed they ate more fruit," Porter told wyomingpublicmedia.org. "Whereas the SNAP coupon people bought more vegetables and increased their vegetable consumption more. And when we asked them about it at the end, they're like, 'Well, I bought vegetables as they were cheaper per serving than fruits. And it left me money to buy meat milk bread. And I could make a complete meal.'"
According to Porter, the research shows that these coupon programs don't have to solely focus on fruit and vegetables. They can be more flexible for people to choose what to buy. She added they are applying for a grant to do a larger-scale version of the study across farmers markets in Wyoming.