Chloe Green BSx’19 came to UW–Madison from Culver City, California, with a desire to study sports nutrition. She was motivated by her high school involvement in sports medicine. But all of that changed with her experience in a first-year interest group focused on the sociology of ethnic minorities.
“I realized it wasn’t the aspect of sports that I really liked in sports medicine, it was the part of helping people in a unique way by using the skills I accrue,” says Green, a senior dual-degree student majoring in dietetics and community and environmental sociology. “I decided I wanted to use my knowledge from dietetics and apply it to communities that needed it most.”
To turn her realization into action, Green applied for and received a Wisconsin Idea Fellowship for the summer and fall of 2018. Awarded by the Morgridge Center for Public Service and funded by American Family Insurance, the fellowship supports her project called A Farmers Market for All? A Look into the True Accessibility of Farmers Markets.
She is working with the UW Kaufman Lab for the Study and Design of Food Systems and Marketplaces, led by urban and regional planning professor Alfonso Morales, to evaluate how accessible farmers markets are for people with lower income and for individuals who do not fit the stereotypical image of the white, middle-class shopper. The project is exploring factors such as location, hours of operation, and transportation.
Green is interested in capturing the opinions of people already attending markets and discovering what would convince them to come more often.
To find that audience, she conducted surveys at the markets themselves. Last summer, she completed more than 100 surveys at 16 markets in six counties throughout the state.
Although she is still in the process of analyzing her results, Green already sees clear trends and is formulating ideas from her data. “One initial suggestion for targeting patrons who are lower income, or members of other minority groups, is to host markets in atypical spaces,” she says. “For example, instead of placing a market in a park in an affluent neighborhood, a market could be successful in residential areas that are more densely populated, even small markets on street corners.”
Another notable finding is that markets with larger consumer bases, mostly in Madison and Milwaukee, are more likely to have incentive programs or allow use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
In a separate project funded by American Family Insurance, Green is developing a set of protocols that farmers markets can use to increase access to lower-income community members. The project will be piloted at Brown Deer Farmers Market in 2019.
“I am really hoping that, if anything, these projects bring about awareness of concepts such as incentive programs at markets and the fact that markets really can serve as a community space rather than simply a place to get groceries,” says Green.