Online Program

Bringing the Grocery Store to the People: Process and Impact Evaluation of Produce on the Go, a Social Marketing Strategy to Reduce Food Access Disparities and Provide Nutrition Education to Rural Latinos

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Susana Ramirez, Ph.D., MPH, Public Health, University of California, Merced, Merced, CA
Nancy Young Bergman, PhD, Make Someone Happy, Merced
Lillian Diaz Rios, PhD, University of California Cooperative Extension - Merced, Merced, CA
Ariana Ruiz, BA, University of California, Merced, Merced, CA
Erendira Estrada, BA, University of California Merced, Merced, CA
Merced County is a largely rural county in California’s Central Valley with one of the country’s highest unemployment rates, and accompanying high rates of poverty. Despite Merced’s geographic location in a region of agricultural abundance, several communities in Merced County have been identified as food deserts, where residents – disproportionately low-SES ethnic minorities – are unable to purchase fresh, nutritious, and affordable foods. Since November 2013, Produce on the Go has sought to address food access issues and the obesity epidemic in Merced County by providing access to locally-grown fruit, vegetables, eggs, and milk to people in food deserts through weekly visits by a mobile grocery truck, combined with on-site nutrition education and opportunities for physical activity. The project has expanded from an initial 10 sites to 18 locations; most in heavily Latino-majority communities, since over half of the county’s residents are Mexican-origin Latinos, who suffer from high rates of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, and face multiple barriers to health. Since January 2015, the mobile market expanded its services to include nutrition education through promotoras and a nutritionist, concentrated in 4 particularly high needs areas within Merced County. We describe the process of implementation of a novel, social marketing-based food access intervention for rural populations, including the role of partnerships within and between academics, community organizations, residents, and county agencies. We present preliminary evidence of effects this improved access has had on dietary knowledge, attitudes, behaviors among low-income Latinos, and discuss implications for policy development to support mobile grocery interventions.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe social marketing principles the process of designing and implementing a mobile grocery, including obtaining funding, partnerships, and permitting; mobilizing community support; and resolving unexpected challenges. Explain the marketing strategies used to encourage the purchases of healthy foods among low-income, rural Latino residents. Define the success of the pilot program from a variety of stakeholder perspectives.

Keyword(s): Community Development, Rural Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I hold a PhD in health communication and an MPH. My research focuses on using communication strategies to improve Latino health outcomes.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Produce on the Go Food Access Advisory Committee/Board

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.