Understanding Impacts of SNAP Fruit and Vegetable Incentive Program at Farmers’ Markets: Findings from a 13 State RCT
Disparities in healthy food access and consumption are a major public health concern. This study reports the findings from a two-year randomized control trial conducted at 77 farmers’ markets (FMs) in 13 states and the District of Columbia that sought to understand the impact of fruit and vegetable (FV) incentive vouchers, randomly issued at varied incentive levels to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, for use at FMs. Measures included FV and overall household food purchasing; FV consumption; food insecurity; health status; market expenditure; and demographics. A repeated-measures mixed-effects analysis and the Complier Average Causal Effect (CACE) were used to examine outcomes. Despite 82% reporting food insecurity in the prior year, the findings showed that financial incentives at FMs had statistically significant, positive effects on FV consumption; market expenditures increased with added incentives. SNAP recipients receiving an incentive of USD 0.40 for every USD 1.00 in SNAP spent an average of USD 19.03 per transaction, while those receiving USD 2 for every USD 1 (2:1) spent an average of USD 36.28 per transaction. The data showed that the incentive program at the highest level (2:1) maximally increased SNAP FM expenditure and FV consumption, increasing the latter by 0.31 daily cups among those who used their incentive (CACE model).