Clare Relton from Sheffield University was welcomed to the meeting to provide Members with an update regarding the Fresh Street Project. It was explained that the purpose of the project was to develop and feasibility test an intervention to help create sustainable and healthy diets, eating behaviours and food systems in areas of high deprivation. The intervention is area based, with ninety-nine households across four streets in Athersley North identified as a suitable area and with every house on the street eligible to receive the offer.
78 households were recruited following a 7 – 10 weeks door knocking exercise. The project launched in March and each household was given 5 x £1 voucher each week for a 6 month period to spend in a local shop or on Barnsley Market on fresh fruit and vegetables only. The vouchers are enclosed in a bright green envelope with a free recipe and key health messages included.
It was reported that 90% of the vouchers (which have a 6 week ‘use by’ date) were redeemed within the first 2 weeks. Two-thirds of the vouchers have been redeemed at the local shop and the remaining one-third at Barnsley market, with more spending on fruit than vegetables.
Local Members have received positive feedback about the project. It appears that existing customers of the local shop have been buying more fruit and vegetables, have been buying locally instead of from the supermarket and that there has been a positive impact on eating habits, with children eating more fruit and veg. Some participants have reported that they have lost weight and there has been a financial benefit to those receiving the vouchers.
A member queried whether it would be possible to encourage participants to eat more vegetables as these are less harmful to teeth but it was explained that this would be difficult to implement.
The Medical Research Council is looking at interventions to improve population health and may be interested in the findings from this small scale research project. It would be informative to run the project for a longer period of time to identify long term benefits and enable a comparison over the summer/winter period but limited resources mean that it will run until the end of September. It was felt that funding for such projects should come from those who benefit from health improvement across the population such GPs, social care and health providers, as poor eating habits impact on the community as a whole.
Members expressed an interest in extending the project for a further 6 months period, which would cost in the region of £8,500, as this would provide some useful local information and would benefit the community as a whole.
(i) Clare be thanked for her attendance and contribution
(ii) An extension to the project for a further 6 months be agreed in principle pending receipt of detailed financial information.