Dissemination of Technology to Evaluate Healthy Food Incentive Programs

Feb 22, 2017 | D. A. Freedman, A. R. Hunt, K. Merritt, E. J. Shon and S. N. Pike

INTRODUCTION: Federal policy supports increased implementation of monetary incentive interventions for chronic disease prevention among low-income populations. This study describes how a Prevention Research Center, working with a dissemination partner, developed and distributed technology to support nationwide implementation and evaluation of healthy food incentive programming focused on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients.

METHODS: FM Tracks, an iOS-based application and website, was developed to standardize evaluation methods for healthy food incentive program implementation at direct-to-consumer markets. This evaluation examined diffusion and adoption of the technology over 9 months (July 2015-March 2016). Data were analyzed in 2016.

RESULTS: FM Tracks was disseminated to 273 markets affiliated with 37 regional networks in 18 states and Washington, DC. All markets adopted the sales transaction data collection feature, with nearly all recording at least one Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (99.3%) and healthy food incentive (97.1%) transaction. A total of 43,493 sales transactions were recorded. By the ninth month of technology dissemination, markets were entering individual sales transactions using the application (34.5%) and website (29.9%) and aggregated transactions via website (35.6%) at similar rates. Use of optional evaluation features like recording a customer ID with individual transactions increased successively with a low of 22.2% during the first month to a high of 69.2% in the ninth month.

CONCLUSIONS: Systematic and widely used evaluation technology creates possibilities for pragmatic research embedded within ongoing, real-world implementation of food access interventions. Technology dissemination requires supportive technical assistance and continuous refinement that can be advanced through academic-practitioner partnerships.

PubMed Abstract

Freedman DA, Hunt AR, Merritt K, Shon EJ, Pike SN. Dissemination of Technology to Evaluate Healthy Food Incentive Programs. American journal of preventive medicine. 2017;52(3s3):S309-s314.