Community-Based Nutrition Education and Hands-On Cooking Intervention Increases Farmers’ Market Use and Vegetable Servings


Metcalfe, J.J.; McCaffrey, J.; Schumacher, M.; Kownacki, C.; Prescott, M.P.


Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of the Market to MyPlate (M2MP) program on participants' reported farmers' market (FM) attitudes and shopping behaviors, frequency of serving vegetables to their families, food resource management behaviors, and food security. A secondary objective was to identify facilitators and barriers to shopping at FMs and food waste reduction techniques used by low-income families. Design: This study used a mixed methods evaluation embedded within a cluster randomized trial of the M2MP intervention. Setting: The 7-week M2MP program was delivered at Extension offices and community centers in central Illinois. Participants: Participants included 120 adults and their families. Class cohorts were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: 1) nutrition education and cooking classes with produce allocations (PAE, n=39), 2) nutrition education and cooking classes only (EO, n=36), or 3) control group (n=45). Results: Compared to control participants, PAE participants were significantly more likely to report shopping at FMs (p=.029) and reported serving more vegetables to their families (p=.010) (EO participants did not differ from the control group on any outcomes). There were no differences between conditions in survey-based measures of food security or food resource management behaviors. Interview results describe facilitators and barriers to shopping at FMs and a variety of food waste reduction techniques (including food placement and food resource management). Conclusions: These findings suggest that fresh produce provision coupled with nutrition and culinary education can positively impact shopping and dietary behaviors. © 2022 The Authors.


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