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