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The Community Health Interventions Lab at the University at Buffalo, in partnership with the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has received funding from the National Cancer Institute to expand a mobile produce market model, known as the Veggie Van. The overall goal is to understand if mobile produce markets can impact fruit and vegetable intake and other related health outcomes in lower-income and underserved communities. We are seeking partners who are interested in starting a mobile market program and/or have previously run a mobile market and are looking to expand. Our goal is to identify eight organizations that will partner with us on this project.
What is the Veggie Van? The Veggie Van model is a mobile produce market that sells locally grown produce at a reduced cost in communities that face barriers such as limited availability, cost, or unfamiliarity with preparing fresh produce. Each Veggie Van partners with sites within the community that are already reaching the targeted population, such as community centers, low-income housing, and churches. Although more research is needed to evaluate mobile produce models, the available research is encouraging. An intervention study conducted in North Carolina at 12 community sites found that during a 6 month program those that residents in communities with Veggie Van increases their intake of fruit and vegetables by almost a cup more than residents in communities without Veggie Van.
What will the study do? First we will identify organizations in the Southeast and Northeastern regions of the United States that want to start or expand mobile market programs. These organizations will be asked to submit proposals to receive funding and technical assistance to start or expand a mobile market program. Eight organizations will be selected to receive:
Access to the Veggie Van Toolkit, a comprehensive “how-to” kit for running a mobile market
Technical assistance from our team to implement the Veggie Van model
Help with community engagement in low food access communities
Point-of service (POS) software for mobile markets
Funding to assist with program implementation and evaluation
Assistance with developing a sustainability plan to continue mobile market programs.
We will complete a comprehensive evaluation process across all 8 sites. Community members in each community targeted by the mobile markets will become active participants in the research process, assisting with recruitment and data collection. After one year of implementation of the Veggie Van model, we will measure the change in fruit and vegetable consumption for participants as well as use data and feedback to refine a Veggie Van toolkit to establish “best practices” for future mobile market projects.