Veggie-Power-Dollar-program-gets-Tulane-PRC-support

'Veggie Power Dollar' program gets Tulane PRC support

It was the smell of barbeque that drew her in. But the discount on fresh vegetables and fruit is what kept New Orleans resident Linda Hughes at the Sankofa Farmers Market one Saturday in February.

"I said, 'Hm. I wonder what's going on,'" said Hughes, who stopped at the market on her way home from her pharmacy. "I actually woke up this morning and said, 'I want some fruit. I'm going to eat healthy.'"

Thanks to a pilot program at Sankofa that matched her food-assistance benefits with tokens to buy fresh produce, Hughes left the farmers market with several bags of fresh greens and new recipes she learned from the market's vendors.

Tulane public health graduate student Bonnie Ruyle also received valuable lessons from the pilot program with Sankofa Community Development Corporation. As an intern with Sankofa, she helped develop the "Veggie Power Dollars" match program that reached dozens of residents, like Hughes. Ruyle was selected for the job through the Tulane Prevention Research Center's (PRC) practicum program, which connects graduate students to community organizations, government agencies and public-health groups for a 300-hour internship. Ruyle said her skills were expanded by helping develop the pilot program, performing data analysis, and working for a nonprofit.

"It opened my eyes even more so to diabetes, heart disease, and nutrition's role in all disease," said Ruyle, whose graduate studies have focused on tropical medicine. "I saw what fruits and vegetables are really available and their value."

Sankofa launched its pilot program this year to match every $10 in government food-assistance benefits spent at the market with $10 in "Veggie Power Dollars" to be spent on fresh fruit and vegetables. The goal was to reach families, particularly families, children and senior citizens, in the Upper and Lower Ninth Ward neighborhoods, Ruyle said. But, unexpectedly, the program drew mostly young adult individuals with food-assistance benefits.

"They were very savvy to it," Ruyle said. "They caught on right away, and they were back every week. And that's great, but that wasn't really the target."

Of the roughly 100 participants in the match program, about 20 percent were either senior citizens or families with children, Ruyle said. The market not only provides foods but also educational elements, by introducing people to different varieties of foods and showing that the costs can be less than in grocery stores.

The pilot program was a good starting point for encouraging people to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, said Rashida Ferdinand, founder and executive director of Sankofa, a community-empowerment organization based in New Orleans' Upper and Lower Ninth Ward.

"It was a success in that we actually created the program, informed the community and served the community, and we realized some things we needed to do," Ferdinand said.

In the future, Sankofa plans to continue the program but tweak it to focus more on outreach to the target populations. That includes increasing connections with senior centers, schools, and offices for social safety net programs like Women, Infants and Children, or WIC. Receiving assistance and resources from Tulane for the pilot "Veggie Dollars" program was helpful, Ferdinand said.

"It's great having that kind of support as a smaller grassroots organization," Ferdinand said. "We can work with a graduate student who has a career-specific interest in working in this area. So there's a level of understanding the mission, the purpose of the work."

By Naomi King, Tulane Prevention Research Center
March 2012

(Photo by Naomi King: New Orleans resident Linda Hughes buys greens from Sankofa Farmers Market vendor Jamal Elhayek in February.)

Other Related Posts

If-you-serve-it-will-they-eat

If you serve it, will they eat?

Food Environment Research Special Interest Projects (SIPs)

Published: June 13, 2017

When it comes to healthy eating for kids, public health experts often look to schools for answers because children spend much of their time and consume much of their calories there. And thanks to national childhood obesity initiatives over the past several years, salad bars are showing up in schools across the country. But do they work? In New Orleans, the national Let's Move! Salad Bars to Schools initiative donated salad bar structures to 43…

Read More

Shopping-at-farmers-markets-and-preparing-food-at-home-are-key-in-healthier-diet

Shopping at farmers markets and preparing food at home are key in healthier diet

Core Research Food Environment Research

Published: June 08, 2017

When residents of two New Orleans neighborhoods tended to shop at a farmer's market or prepare food at home, they also tended to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, according to a recently published study by the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC). The study was published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports in June 2017, and study authors included partners from the project's steering committee. (Click the picture above to see the committee members who…

Read More

Tulane-PRC-receives-grant-to-support-long-standing-local-committee-for-healthy-food-access

Tulane PRC receives grant to support long-standing local committee for healthy food access

Food Environment Research Special Interest Projects (SIPs)

Published: June 08, 2017

Building on its history to improve the availability of fresh, healthy foods in New Orleans, the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC) was recently awarded funding from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to support the work of the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee to increase healthy eating opportunities for children and families. "FPAC is grateful for the opportunity to continue our work to guide New Orleans toward a healthier, more sustainable food system," said Elisa…

Read More

Tulane-graduate-student-works-with-community-to-enhance-greenway-

Tulane graduate student works with community to enhance greenway

Education & Engagement

Published: June 05, 2017

As New Orleans continues to roll forward new initiatives to create a more active and healthy community, one Tulane graduate had the opportunity to support one – the city's longest linear public park – as part of Tulane Prevention Research Center’s (PRC) Health Promotion Practicum program. The Lafitte Greenway is a 2.6-mile multi-use trail that allows both pedestrians and cyclists to travel from Mid-City to the French Quarter while connecting neighborhoods, green spaces, and recreation…

Read More

Staff-Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Education & Engagement

Published: June 02, 2017

Megan Knapp, MPH, is a doctoral student and research assistant at the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC). She supervises data entry and assists with PRC activities that aim to reduce or prevent overweight and obesity in the Greater New Orleans area. As a PhD student at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, she is studying under the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences. She is a graduate of Emory University…

Read More

PRC-network-hosts-Food-and-Obesity-Symposium

PRC network hosts Food and Obesity Symposium

Education & Engagement Food Environment Research

Published: June 02, 2017

More than 100 people gathered in Philadelphia this spring to discuss the availability and marketing of healthy and unhealthy food in their communities. The University of Pennsylvania Prevention Research Center (UPenn PRC) hosted the day-long symposium "Accelerating Policies & Research on Food Access, Diet, and Obesity Prevention" on April 28. The meeting brought together prevention health researchers and public health advocates to discuss today's food environment and focus on future directions for this important health…

Read More

Message-from-the-Director

Message from the Director

Education & Engagement

Published: June 02, 2017

Lots of exciting stuff coming up. The Tulane Prevention Research Center is hosting two community events and we look forward to seeing you there. The Movin' for LIFE 9th Ward Family Health Fair will be held at St. Mary of the Angels Church Gym, 3501 N. Miro St., New Orleans LA, on Saturday, August 12, 2017, from 10 am to 3 pm. Movin' for LIFE is encouraging families to come and have fun, learn about…

Read More

Community-Partner-Updates

Community Partner Updates

Education & Engagement

Published: June 02, 2017

See what our Community Advisory Board (CAB) members and partners have been up to! Click on the photo for a gallery of pictures and read updates below. To find out more about our partners, click here to visit our Community Partners page. PHOTO 1: This spring the New Orleans Health Department announced a partnership with bike advocacy nonprofit Bike Easy and the New Orleans Police Department to train PE teachers and crossing guards at 10…

Read More

Tulane-and-City-of-New-Orleans-launch-bike-share-surveys

Tulane and City of New Orleans launch bike share surveys

Education & Engagement

Published: June 02, 2017

The Tulane University community and residents across the city of New Orleans are being asked to voice their opinions and thoughts about bike share in two separate surveys. What is bike share? In Fall 2017, the City of New Orleans will launch a bike share system, powered by Social Bicycles (SoBi). Bike share technology offers online and on-the-spot opportunities to reserve and rent a bike that will take you where you need to go. At…

Read More

Nutrition-Bites-Making-Smart-Food-Choices-at-Festivals

Nutrition Bites: Making Smart Food Choices at Festivals

Education & Engagement

Published: June 01, 2017

As the summer months approach, so do a wide variety of food and music festivals. The summer includes French Market Creole Tomato Festival, ESSENCE Festival, Satchmo SummerFest, and the list goes on and on. With so many delicious food and drink options to be found, it can be tough to make healthy choices. Below are some simple tips on how to enjoy the festivals throughout the season without packing on the extra pounds. Keep portions…

Read More

canary