Farmers Market Use and Perceived Barriers to Farmers Market Access Among SNAP Recipients in Washington State
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Background: Activities are underway in Washington State to increase access to farmers markets for SNAP and SNAP-eligible participants. A variety of stakeholders are involved in implementing activities to make farmers markets more accessible. These include addressing the economic, environmental, and social barriers. However, these activities are not necessarily in-line with the actual barriers, as stated by low-income shoppers, to shopping at farmers markets. The purpose of this study is to identify the commonly stated barriers among both SNAP participants and SNAP-Ed Stakeholders in Washington State to using farmers markets, and to examine whether the challenges perceived by SNAP-Ed Stakeholders align with the stated barriers of SNAP participants. Methods: This study used data that was obtained from a mixed-methods evaluation, conducted by the University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition (CPHN) from January 2016 to January 2017, of all SNAP-Ed affiliated farmers market access work in Washington State. Sources of data for this study included a statewide SNAP participant telephone survey and two time points of SNAP-Ed Stakeholder interviews. CPHN developed a multi-staged, clustered, random sample of SNAP participants for the SNAP Participant Survey, stratified by exposure to farmers market access activities, rurality, and primary language. This survey was conducted over the telephone and all survey responses were entered into a secure database. Descriptive statistics were used to explore the relation between the stated barriers to farmers market access and SNAP-Ed exposure, key sociodemographic characteristics, distance from farmers markets, and frequency of farmers market use. Two-sample t-tests and Pearson’s chi square tests were performed to analyze if the stated barriers varied significantly by any of the independent variables. The semi-structured SNAP-Ed Stakeholder interviews were transcribed and coded in Atlas.ti data analysis software, then analyzed for key themes that emerged related to significant challenges or barriers to improving farmers market access for low-income shoppers. Results from each data source were then compared to assess if farmers market access barriers as perceived by SNAP-Ed Stakeholders were in alignment with the barriers stated by SNAP participants. Results: Among SNAP participants, barriers related to lack of convenience were most often stated as the number one barrier to shopping at farmers markets. Other stated barriers included lack of affordability, lack of awareness, and lack of comfort. These varied by socioeconomic status and distance from the nearest farmers market. SNAP-Ed Stakeholders stated similar barriers, including the SNAP/EBT process, the perception of higher prices, and lack of awareness, transportation, comfort, and convenience. However, there was some discordance between the two groups in the emphasis placed on these factors as barriers to farmers market access.
- Nutritional sciences