Date of Award

9-14-2009

Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Nutrition

First Advisor

Murugi Ndirangu, PhD - Chair

Second Advisor

Mildred M. Cody, PhD, RD

Third Advisor

Catherine McCarroll, MPH, RD

Abstract

Background: The Georgia Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (GSFMNP) is intended to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables among Georgia’s low-income, older adults. The program provides $20 in vouchers with which participants may purchase Georgia-grown fruits and vegetables at approved farmers’ markets. Similar programs operate in other states, and studies suggest that these programs are successful in increasing fruit and vegetable intake among participants. However, because Georgia’s program operates somewhat differently, offering only a single market event at most locations, it may have different results. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not produce purchased at GSFMNP events in 2008 contributed to an increase in the fruit and vegetable intakes of the participants and to identify factors that may have influenced those intakes. The study focused on purchase, consumption, preservation, waste, and sharing of fresh fruits and vegetables. Methods: For this qualitative study, a sample of 198 GSFMNP participants was surveyed from ten metro Atlanta senior centers where markets were held in August and September of 2008. Descriptive statistics were produced to summarize purchase behaviors, food utilization behaviors, and attitudes. Analyses of relationships between variables were performed using Pearson chi-square tests. Results: Twenty-seven percent of subjects reported consuming more fruits and vegetables than usual in the week following the farmers’ market event. There was a significant association between a larger than usual purchase amount and increased intake. There was also a significant association between increased intake and sharing purchased items. No significant associations with increased intake were found for variety of items purchased, preserving food, or discarding food. Those who purchased more fresh produce than usual appeared to be more likely to share their food with others but were not more likely to discard food. Ninety-seven percent of subjects said they would participate in the program again. Conclusion: Results of this study suggest that the majority of GSFMNP participants did not increase their intakes of fruits and vegetables. Sharing, preserving, and discarding food did not appear to be responsible for this outcome. More research is needed to discover what strategies could increase fruit and vegetable intakes among participants of the GSFMNP.

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