Degree Name

DrPH (Doctor of Public Health)


Public Health

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Deborah Slawson

Committee Members

Mary Ann Littleton, Liang Wang


Farmers’ markets are increasingly promoted as mechanisms for improving access to healthful foods for low-income households, as they are relatively inexpensive to establish and they can provide affordable food for low-income households by offering Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefit Transfer (SNAP/EBT). SNAP/EBT at markets also expands revenue opportunities for participating farmers. Market mangers provide a critical role in overseeing SNAP/EBT at markets and influencing business opportunities for farmers. Using a mixed-method approach, this study aimed to evaluate how managers’ motivations influence SNAP/EBT availability and participation at markets and business opportunities for small- and moderate- sized farms.

To develop a survey measuring managers’ attitudes and behaviors and farmers’ market outcomes, focus groups were conducted with farmers’ market managers (n=8) in Western North Carolina, East Tennessee, and Southwest Virginia, and interviews were conducted with farmers in the same region (n=8). Eight themes were identified in the manager focus groups, and 5 were identified in the farmer interviews. Qualitative data yielded insight on how managers influence market outcomes.

A survey incorporating qualitative findings was distributed to 271 NC farmers’ market managers in May 2014. Multiple regression models were used to examine the influence of mangers’ motivations to improve access to healthful food and support business opportunities on SNAP/EBT availability and participation and indicators of market vitality.

Sixty managers completed the survey. There was no significant association between food access motivation and SNAP/EBT participation. A significant, positive association was found between business motivation and customer count, total vendor count, and average weekly vendor count. More research is needed to understand how managers’ motivations interplay with environmental and organizational characteristics to influence food access for low-income households and business opportunities for farmers. Findings from this study offer a starting point for developing interventions that maximize managers’ impact on these outcomes.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Public Health Commons