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Local Value Chain Models of Healthy Food Access: A Qualitative Study of Two Approaches

Published Date November 19, 2021
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Abstract

Food value chains are increasingly recognized as more equitable alternatives to traditional supply chains and may represent a novel mechanism to achieve health equity at the local level. Country Fresh Stops (CFS) and Donation Station (DS) are two complementary programs that are part of a more robust value chain designed to support local agriculture in Appalachia Ohio. As the first study of these programs in the peer-reviewed literature, the objectives were to identify factors that facilitate or hinder the implementation of these two local value chain models of healthy food access and to identify the perceived impacts from the perspective of the sites implementing them. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with CFS (n = 7) and DS (n = 10) site representatives in January 2020. Template analysis was used to identify themes through a priori and inductive codes. Participants identified two primary facilitators: support from partner organizations and on-site program stewardship. Produce (and program) seasonality and mitigating food waste were the most cited challenges. Despite challenges, both CFS and DS sites perceive the models to be successful efforts for supporting the local economy, achieving organizational missions, and providing consumers with greater access to locally grown produce. These innovative programs demonstrate good feasibility, but long-term sustainability and impacts on other key stakeholders merit further investigation.