Food access interventions are promising strategies for improving dietary intake, which is associated with better health. However, studies examining the relationship between food access and intake are limited to observational designs, indicating a need for more rigorous approaches. The Veggie Van (VV) program was a cluster-randomized intervention designed to address the gap between food access and intake. In this article, we aim to describe the approaches involved in recruiting community partners to participate in VV.
The VV mobile market aimed to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables by providing subsidized, high-quality, local produce in low-resource communities in North Carolina. This study describes the strategies and considerations involved in recruiting community partners and individual participants for participation in the VV program and evaluation.
To recruit partners, we used various strategies, including a site screener to identify potential partners, interest forms to gauge future VV use and prioritize enrollment of a high-need population, marketing materials to promote VV, site liaisons to coordinate community outreach, and a memorandum of understanding between all invested parties.
A total of 53 community organizations and 725 participants were approached for recruitment. Ultimately, 12 sites and 201 participants were enrolled. Enrollment took 38 months, but our approaches helped successfully recruit a low-income, low-access population. The process took longer than anticipated, and funding constraints prevented certain strategies from being implemented.
Recruiting community partners and members for participation in a multi-level, community-based intervention was challenging. Strategies and lessons learned can inform future studies.