Last Friday afternoon, I (Natalie) had the chance to meet with a different stakeholder in our project: Preet Kaur, a sophomore here at Stanford and an intern of Priscilla’s at FOHC, has officially joined the farmers market team. Priscilla’s idea for the farmers market project was one of the things that originally attracted Preet to the FOHC internship, and she has been eager to get involved. In my meeting with her, we mostly discussed logistics of the project, but I made a point of extending the conversation to overall goals and purposes. Preet’s main point of involvement for the time being is survey distribution. With strong Spanish skills and a set schedule for being at the clinic, Preet has already proven to be a huge help in growing our sample size. Just today she collected 30 responses and seemed to enjoy herself while doing it. She texted me from the clinic:
After this quarter, I’m sure Preet will play a big role in carrying the farmers market project forward. Getting to work with her at this stage is very important in terms of establishing some continuity within our project.
Another major effort within this past week has been finalizing our plans for the two focus groups we are holding next week. Our staff focus group is going to be held on Tuesday during the lunch hour, and our patient focus group will be on Wednesday evening from 5-6pm. We have already received 23 RSVPs from the staff and plan to break them up into two smaller groups to facilitate conversation. We have contact information from a few patient surveys that we can use to recruit for the patient focus group, but Priscilla is facilitating the majority of that recruitment.
Pete has recently conducted two more phone interviews with Collective Roots and the Ecology Center. The Ecology Center referred us to Phat Beets (haha), a food justice collective in Oakland, for additional support and information. Additionally, these conversations have led us to re-evaluate our initial concerns over market management. Previously, we were thinking that having FOHC staff manage the market would be infeasible, but we now feel that this idea deserves more attention.
Observations and Learnings
After collecting our first pilot round of 14 surveys, I (Natalie) sat down with them and went to work coming up with a useful way of coding the information and putting it into an Excel spreadsheet. With only 14 responses accounted for so far, it’s impossible to make any statements about trends, but there are hints of interesting things going on. For example, 12 out of 14 said they would shop at a market at FOHC, but these same people indicated that they are satisfied with the produce offered at their current grocery stores. So while people may not be opposed to the idea of a farmers market at FOHC, they may feel that it is not particularly necessary. In terms of what items they’d like to see at the market, fruits are favored over vegetables, and there is very little interest in eggs or milk. Nine out of the 14 indicated that they would shop at the market even if they didn’t have an appointment at the clinic that day. I found this to be encouraging – I imagine a future challenge to be getting people to come to the clinic for the sole purpose of purchasing food. We’re excited to log more survey data and see what we can find.
The presentations given by Dara and Eli in class on Wednesday were great supplements to the work and reflection that we’ve been putting into our project. Eli’s direct question to our group about how our farmers market would address food access issues in North Fair Oaks was particularly thought provoking. While it does seem like we are putting effort into the physical, economic, educational, and cultural components of food access, I wonder if we are doing this in a way that is specific enough to North Fair Oaks. I personally don’t feel as though I have a good handle on what the particular food access issues are or how the residents of North Fair Oaks perceive them. It seems like there are a lot of stores around, including corner stores and larger chains – so it is a price issue? A nutrition literacy issue? A lack of time? Hopefully as we move forward with our surveys and focus groups, we will be able to answer these questions more explicitly.
The healthy corner store initiative that Eli mentioned reminded me of the importance of not getting stuck in one track of thinking when other ideas are worth entertaining. While I stand behind the idea of having a farmers market at FOHC, there are many corner store and tiendas throughout North Fair Oaks. Maybe a similar corner store initiative could be applicable and effective here. It is easy to forget that there are other ways to achieve the same goals, and remembering this can be the key to making progress and implementing the most useful, appropriate strategies.
Natalie, Pete, and Sophie