Barriers to Fruit and Vegetable Consumption among Farmers Market Incentive Program Users

Since 2015, Dr. Chelsea R. Singleton, an Illinois PRC post-doctoral research fellow, has been working closely with staff at Experimental Station in Chicago, IL to research the demographics and diet-related behaviors of Link Match (formerly titled Link Up Illinois) users.

Link Match is the largest farmers market incentive program for low-income individuals and families in Illinois. The program provides a one-to-one dollar match (up to $25) to participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly title the Federal Food Stamps Program) to incentivize their purchasing of locally grown foods at participating farmers markets across the state.

Dr. Singleton and Experimental Station staff have published a paper in Public Health Nutrition on findings from a Link Match users survey they administered during the 2016 farmers market season. A total of 140 Link Match users completed the survey at participating farmers markets in the following Illinois cities: Chicago, Springfield, Northbrook, Woodstock, Aurora, and Urbana. Survey participants were, on average, 42.5 years of age and predominately female (81.7%). Furthermore, 28.7% of participants were African American and 44.0% were obese.

Survey participants provided detailed information on their barriers to consuming an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables and their fruit and vegetable consumption in the prior month. Results indicated that 23% of participants consumed fruits and vegetables 3 or more times per day. Cost, premature spoilage, and cooking knowledge were the barriers most often reported. Furthermore, reporting at least one barrier to fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with a significant reduction in a participant’s odds of consuming vegetables 3 or more times a day, but not fruit.

Forthcoming findings from this research project will document racial/ethnic differences, and farmers market shopping behaviors and attitudes of Link Match users.

This research was supported by grants from the United States Department of Agriculture. Questions about this research can be directed to Dr. Chelsea Singleton (

About the image. Photo from Pixabay.




Dr. Chelsea R. Singleton has been a post-doctoral research fellow with the Illinois Prevention Research Center since 2015. Her research examines the influence food policy and food environment have on dietary intake and chronic disease risk. Her research is supported by grants from the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Cancer Institute.