CSA Plus: Innovative Community Supported Agriculture Cost-Offset Intervention to Prevent Childhood Obesity and Strengthen Local Agricultural Economies
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an innovative approach to increasing consumer access to and consumption of fresh produce, thereby lowering obesity prevalence. However, CSA “share” costs may be a barrier for low-income families with children, who are at increased risk for obesity. The proposed project examines whether subsidizing the cost of CSAs, integrated with tailored education: 1) increases consumption of fruits and vegetables, 2) substitutes fruits and vegetables for more energy-dense foods, and 3) improves overall diet quality and energy balance, thus helping children maintain healthy body weights. We will also address a current knowledge gap by examining how cost-offset CSAs (“CO-CSAs”) contribute to local agricultural economies.
The research includes formative evaluation with farmers who currently have a CO-CSA program in place as well as observation of dietary behaviors among existing CO-CSA consumers. Those findings will inform implementation of a randomized trial to evaluate CO-CSA participation plus tailored education on diet and weight status among low-income families with children aged 2-19 years. The research will also include economic analysis to evaluate the impact of CO-CSA for farmers and communities. The extension components are a) adaptation and implementation of a tailored curriculum to enhance participant knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors related to use of CSA produce and strategies to promote dietary change and energy balance; and b) business plan development for farmers to support sustainability of CO-CSAs. The education component includes development and dissemination of short-courses for undergraduate and graduate students, focusing on links between local food systems and health.
Principal Investigator: Alice Ammerman
Project Director: Beverly Garcia