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Minigrants for Community Health: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Their Impact on Family Food Gardening

Porter, Christine M. PhD; McCrackin, Peggy G. MS; Naschold, Felix PhD

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: July/August 2016 - Volume 22 - Issue 4 - p 379–386
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000359
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Objective: To evaluate the impact of minigrants on home food gardening and review 28 health-related minigrant programs reported in the literature for lessons relevant for using minigrant programs to promote community health.

Design: Randomized controlled trial of the impact of minigrants on square footage of food garden area and on garden initiation in 2010 versus 2011. Interviews with participants were also conducted and coded and the literature was reviewed for findings from other community health minigrant programs.

Setting: Laramie, Wyoming.

Participants: Sixty adults living in 53 households who attended a gardening training workshop in April 2011.

Intervention: A $40 minigrant in the form of a voucher, valid at a local gardening store.

Results: Minigrant recipients were more likely to increase their gardening space than the control group. The average increase for the intervention group was 39.2 ft2 (3.62 m2) while the control group average garden plot size decreased slightly, on average, by 1.4 ft2 (−0.13 m2). However, the data were not normally distributed and, therefore, nonparametric statistical tests were used. For the subset of 20 households that did not garden at all in 2010, minigrants also provided motivation to start gardening (8 of 10 minigrant households started a garden vs 2 of 10 control households). Results reported from other health minigrant programs are also positive, though few had quantitative outcomes or control groups for comparison.

Conclusions: Even with very small amounts of money, minigrants show promise as an ethical, inexpensive, empowering, and effective health promotion strategy to enable families and communities to improve their health.

Supplemental Digital Content is Available in the Text.This study aims at evaluating the impact of minigrants on home food gardening and reviewing 28 health-related minigrant programs reported in the literature for lessons relevant for using minigrant programs to promote community health.

Division of Kinesiology & Health, College of Health Sciences, University of Wyoming, Laramie (Dr Porter and Ms McCrackin); and Department of Economics and Finance, College of Business, Laramie, Wyoming (Dr Naschold).

Correspondence: Christine M. Porter, PhD, Division of Kinesiology & Health, College of Health Sciences; University of Wyoming, 1000 E. University Ave, Dept 3196, Laramie, WY (christine.porter@uwyo.edu).

The authors thank Alyssa Wechsler for her help with the review of the minigrants and health literature and they are also grateful to all of the study participants.

This work was supported in part by the Food Dignity project, funded by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive grant no. 2011-68004-30074 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (www.fooddignity.org). The minigrant awards were supported by a University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences Graduate Student Research grant.

McCrackin's work for this project was supported by the Food Dignity project, first as a graduate assistant with Porter and then as a part-time employee with that project. Porter is the principal investigator and project director for Food Dignity. The minigrant awards were paid for with a University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences Graduate Student Research grant that McCrackin received. Naschold has no funding or conflicts of interests to declare.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (http://www.JPHMP.com).

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