December 1998 // Volume 36 // Number 6 // Ideas at Work // 6IAW5

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5-A-Day Roadside Market Project

The 5-A-Day Roadside Market project was the outcome of a survey conducted by a county Extension staff to provide information requested by customers at local roadside markets. Twenty roadside market operators agreed to participate in the project and received 40,000 free fact sheets to distribute to their customers and 5-A-Day posters to display in their markets. This project was a marketing technique to increase consumer awareness of eating five servings of fruits and vegetables to help prevent health problems.

Sharon L. Mader
Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences
Ohio State University Extension
Sandusky County
Fremont, Ohio

Americans fall far short of consuming five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day as recommended by the Food Guide Pyramid. The National Cancer Institute (Block, Patterson & Subar, 1992), reviewing 150 epidemiological studies, found that people who consumed five servings of fruits and vegetables daily were half as likely to develop cancer of the digestive and respiratory tracts than those who consumed fewer than two servings a day. This same survey estimates that average fruit and vegetable consumption ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 servings a day.

Historically, roadside market operators have requested information about selection and preservation of fruits and vegetables from Extension. The customers who have additional questions related to nutrition and how much produce to buy are referred to the Extension office. However, many times the information needed is not requested for a variety of reasons. Extension agents sought to resolve this problem by providing information at roadside markets.

Roadside market facilities vary from permanently enclosed buildings to temporary tables with a tent-like canvas roof. The space available to display information at the market is often limited, and inclement weather (rain, wind) was a concern in providing the literature and visual aids that would be useful to the roadside market operators and their customers.

The goal of the 5-A-Day Roadside Market project was to provide Extension personnel with promotional materials to distribute at roadside markets where locally grown produce is sold. The objectives of the project were to:

  1. Provide reliable information related to buying, nutrition, selection, and preservation of 10 locally grown fruits and vegetables.

  2. Increase awareness of the 5-A-Day concept at the point of purchase. Twenty roadside markets were provided professionally produced laminated posters to promote the 5-A-Day concept and fact sheets providing information related to the most commonly asked questions. The 10 fact sheets were reviewed by a human nutrition and food management Extension associate and a food and nutrition Extension specialist. Due to space limitations at the markets, the fact sheets were printed on bright colored paper (4 1/4" X 5 1/2") and folded in half to fit in the display racks provided. Approximately 40,000 fact sheets and 40 laminated posters were distributed to roadside markets in Sandusky County.

The fact sheets were also distributed by the local county health department to Women, Infant, & Children (WIC) clients during the distribution of WIC produce coupons, redeemable for produce grown in the county. The Extension staff also provided the fact sheets at pressure canner clinics and for walk-in clientele at the Extension office.

The project was evaluated by interviewing all the market operators following the growing season. Interview results indicated 100% of the roadside markets distributed the fact sheets, and 80% of the operators found the laminated posters increased awareness of the 5-A-Day concept among their customers. One market operator reported his employees had little knowledge of what questions to expect from customers. The fact sheets were helpful in providing information for the both employees and customers.

The 10 fact sheets developed can be found on the World Wide Web at: For additional information related to this project, contact Ohio State University Extension, Sandusky County, 2000 Countryside Drive, Fremont, OH 43420-9574; telephone (419)334-6340.


Block G., Patterson B., and Subar A. (1992). Fruit, vegetables, and cancer prevention: A review of epidemiological evidence. Nutrition and Cancer, 18(1), 1-29.


The author thanks Ohio State University Extension for funding this project through an Innovative Grant. The author gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Debbie Estep, secretary; Ronald Overmyer, agricultural and natural resource Extension agent; Lisa Jinks, family nutrition program assistant; Betsy Shellhammer, former agricultural program assistant; Mary Kershaw, human nutrition and food management Extension associate; and Lydia Medeiros, food and nutrition Extension specialist, to the project.