Healthy Food Access and CSAs

Case Made for CSA-Food Access Link

Do community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs constitute a viable approach for providing fresh fruits and vegetables to “under-resourced” communities? A study appearing last month in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal Preventing Chronic Disease makes a case for the link. See an excerpt from an article published about this study, or read the full article here. Excerpt: Low-income communities have particular problems getting adequate fruits and vegetables because of limited access to supermarkets and farmers markets. A new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center shows that community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs may be a feasible approach for providing fresh fruits and vegetables to under-resourced communities.  Lead author Sara A. Quandt, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest Baptist, said that CSAs, which link consumers to a local farm's produce over a growing season, have been proposed as a solution for disparities in fruit and vegetable consumption, though evaluation of such efforts has been limited. The typical U.S. diet fails to meet daily recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption. Intervention participants received a free box of fresh produce for 16 weeks from May through August 2012. They were also offered five educational sessions, including cooking classes, a farm tour and a grocery store tour with a dietitian that focused on healthful eating on a budget. The control participants did not receive education or the produce boxes. The researchers observed a significant increase over the summer in the number of different fruits and vegetables in the households of the intervention group compared with the control group. The intervention group also reported greater increases in fruit and vegetable consumption.  "Although the increases in fruit and vegetable consumption in the intervention group did not reach statistical significance, they did show a trend in the right direction," said Quandt. "In a larger group, we would expect that the CSA program would make a noticeable impact on quality of the families' diets."

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