A descriptive analysis of the consumers at farm stands outside WIC clinics
Because fruit and vegetable intake remains low in low-income populations, the attention of public health researchers has focused on different strategies to reach this population. One possible method of reaching low income populations is through government food assistance programs like the WIC's Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). This program provides vouchers to WIC recipients that are redeemable only at farmers' markets. In the summer of 2010, two farm stands near WIC clinics in Austin were surveyed in order to establish socio-demographic characteristics of the clientele of the markets. The overall purpose of this pilot study was to describe the clientele of the markets and to examine associations between food insecurity, acculturation, socio-demographic factors, and farmers' market participants' fruit and vegetable intake. The sample was a convenience sample of farmers' market customers. One hundred study participants completed self-administered surveys. Independent t-tests were used to explore the differences in means of fruit and vegetable intake according to acculturation and food insecurity levels. The overall mean (SD) of daily fruit and vegetable intake was 4.20±2.69 for customers of both markets. Significant differences were reported between the two markets in overall fruit and vegetable intake and specifically in the following: 100% juice (P=.023), fruit consumption (P=.028), green salad (P=.003), and salsa (P=.044). The differences showed that customers at the market in a more busy location were on average reporting eating more fruits and vegetables than customers at another market that was located in a more secluded location. When examined by level of food security, individuals who were more food secure consumed more fruit (P=.016). When examined by level of acculturation, the overall fruit and vegetable intake was not significantly different between levels of acculturation. The overall findings in this report suggest that the population at these markets consists of individuals who are food insecure and on government assistance programs. While there were no significant differences between fruit and vegetable intake, acculturation and food insecurity, this report suggests the need for culturally tailored interventions that serve the Hispanic population and would assist this population to become more food secure.