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Implementing a Rural Natural Experiment: A Protocol for Evaluating the Impacts of Food Coops on Food Consumption, Resident’s Health and Community Vitality

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Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec, Montréal, QC H2P 1E2, Canada
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Département de Médecine Sociale et Préventive, Université de Montréal, École de Santé Publique de l’Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC H3T 1A8, Canada
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Centre de Recherche en Santé Publique, Université de Montréal et CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, Montréal, QC H3T 1A8, Canada
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Département de Nutrition, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC H3T 1A8, Canada
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Département de Géographie, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
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Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 1G1, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Fernando Albericio
Methods Protoc. 2022, 5(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/mps5020033
Received: 28 January 2022 / Revised: 9 April 2022 / Accepted: 11 April 2022 / Published: 14 April 2022
(This article belongs to the Section Public Health Research)
Background: Local food environments are recognized by experts as a determinant of healthy eating. Food cooperatives (coop) can promote the accessibility to healthier foods and thus improve the health of the population, particularly in remote rural communities. Objective: To measure the effects of implementing a food coop in a disadvantaged community with poor access to food. We have two main research questions: (1). Does the establishment of a food coop in rural areas described as food deserts have an impact on accessibility, frequency of use, food consumption, food quality, and ultimately the health of individuals? (2). Does the establishment of a food coop in rural areas described as food deserts have an impact on food security and community vitality? Design: A natural experiment with a mixed pre/post method will be used. The sample is composed of households that came from geographically isolated communities (population: 215 to 885 inhabitants) which qualified as food deserts and located in rural areas of Quebec (Canada). All communities plan to open a food coop (in the years 2022–2023), and as their opening will be staggered over time, participants from communities with a new food coop (intervention) will be compared to communities awaiting the opening of their food coop (control). Data collection was carried out at three time points: (1) before; (2) 1 to 5 months after; and (3) 13 to 17 months after the opening of the coop. Questionnaires were used to measure sociodemographic variables, dietary intake, residents’ health, and community vitality. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with community stakeholders. Results: Few natural experiments have been conducted regarding the impact of implementing food coops. Gathering concrete data on the effectiveness and processes surrounding these interventions through natural experiments will help to quantify their impact and guide knowledge users and policymakers to make more informed decisions. View Full-Text
Keywords: food environment; nutrition; interventions; accessibility; isolated food environment; nutrition; interventions; accessibility; isolated
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MDPI and ACS Style

Robitaille, É.; Paquette, M.-C.; Durette, G.; Bergeron, A.; Dubé, M.; Doyon, M.; Mercille, G.; Lemire, M.; Lo, E. Implementing a Rural Natural Experiment: A Protocol for Evaluating the Impacts of Food Coops on Food Consumption, Resident’s Health and Community Vitality. Methods Protoc. 2022, 5, 33. https://doi.org/10.3390/mps5020033

AMA Style

Robitaille É, Paquette M-C, Durette G, Bergeron A, Dubé M, Doyon M, Mercille G, Lemire M, Lo E. Implementing a Rural Natural Experiment: A Protocol for Evaluating the Impacts of Food Coops on Food Consumption, Resident’s Health and Community Vitality. Methods and Protocols. 2022; 5(2):33. https://doi.org/10.3390/mps5020033

Chicago/Turabian Style

Robitaille, Éric, Marie-Claude Paquette, Gabrielle Durette, Amélie Bergeron, Marianne Dubé, Mélanie Doyon, Geneviève Mercille, Marc Lemire, and Ernest Lo. 2022. "Implementing a Rural Natural Experiment: A Protocol for Evaluating the Impacts of Food Coops on Food Consumption, Resident’s Health and Community Vitality" Methods and Protocols 5, no. 2: 33. https://doi.org/10.3390/mps5020033

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