Associations Between Farmers Market Managers' Motivations and Market-Level Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefit Transfer (SNAP/EBT) Availability and Business Vitality
Keywords:Electronic Benefit Transfer, Farmers Market, Farmers Market Managers, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP/EBT
Farmers markets are promoted to improve access to healthy food for low-income consumers by providing affordable produce via Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefit Transfer (SNAP/EBT). Having SNAP/EBT at markets also expands revenue opportunities for participating farmers. Market managers play a key role in implementing SNAP/EBT and promoting business opportunities for farmers, yet they are not motivated equally by public health and business goals. There are few studies examining market managers' influence on food access for low-income households and business opportunities for farmers. We examined associations between managers' motivations and (1) food access for low-income households, measured by SNAP/EBT availability, and (2) business vitality, measured by vendor participation. A survey assessing manager motivation, SNAP/EBT availability, and vendor participation was sent to all market managers (N=271) in North Carolina. Seventy (26%) managers completed the survey. Multiple regression models were used to examine the association between managers' motivations to (1) improve access to healthful food and SNAP/EBT availability, and to (2) support business opportunities and total vendor count, weekly vendor count, and the number of vendors who sell only what they produce ("producer-only"). There was no significant association between food access motivation and SNAP/EBT availability, or business motivation and total and weekly vendor count. A high business motivation score was positively associated with having 13 more producer-only vendors at the market. Manager pay was positively correlated with vendor participation, including total vendor, weekly, and producer-only vendor counts. Our results suggest that public health interventions should emphasize the business opportunities offered by SNAP/EBT at farmers' markets, ultimately leveraging market managers' business goals to encourage SNAP/EBT implementation.
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