Objective: To better understand potential supports and barriers to cost-offset community supported agriculture (CO-CSA) for low-income families.
Description: Formative interviews were conducted with adults (n = 41) and children (n = 20) from low-income households and cooperative extension nutrition educators (n = 20). Adults from low-income households also completed a choice experiment to examine willingness to participate in CSA under a variety of price, distance, and content conditions.
Evaluation: Formative interviews revealed parents were unfamiliar with CSA, and most were worried about cost, accessibility, produce quality, and selection. Their optimal CSA share would have 8 to 9 items of mixed variety, pick-up every other week, price less than $15, no more than 10 minutes further than the supermarket, and preferably less expensive but no more than 20% more expensive than supermarket prices. Formative interviews with educators revealed positive views toward local foods and the importance of integrating local foods into extension programming.
Conclusions and Implications: Findings from the formative research informed the Farm Fresh Foods for Healthy Kids (F3HK) intervention which included a 15–24 week summer CO-CSA share (50% subsidy), weekly payments (allowing SNAP-EBT), 2–4 cooking tools, and 9 CSA-tailored education classes. Fourteen focus groups were conducted with F3HK participants following the first year of CSA participation to understand challenges faced and support received. Unfamiliar foods, storage, and spoilage were challenges with CO-CSA; the CSA-tailored classes and farmer advice and newsletters helped in this regard. F3HK participants generally thought the CO-CSA was affordable; they reported that farmers were helpful working out alternate payment arrangements when needed. The F3HK intervention trial incorporates modest adaptions to the traditional CSA model in order to make participation feasible for low-income families. Despite these adaptations, additional support may be needed to promote full participation and enhance produce use.
The following is the supplementary data to this article: