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Making community-supported agriculture accessible to low-income families: findings from the Farm Fresh Foods for Healthy Kids process evaluation

Published Date September 15, 2020
Research Topic
Research Type
Authors Jennifer Garner

Abstract

A randomized trial of Farm Fresh Foods for Healthy Kids (F3HK) was initiated across 4 states and 12 farms to test whether cost-offset community-supported agriculture (CO-CSA) could improve diet quality among children in low-income families. Intervention households purchased a 50% subsidized share of local produce and were invited to nine complimentary nutrition classes.

The purpose of this study was to assess F3HK reach, dose, and fidelity via a mixed methods process evaluation. Screening and enrollment records indicated reach; study records and post lesson educator surveys tracked dose delivered; CSA pickup logs, lesson sign-in sheets, postseason participant surveys, and post lesson caregiver surveys assessed dose received; and coordinator audits and educator surveys tracked fidelity. Educator interviews contextualized findings. The results of this study were as follows. Reach: enrolled caregivers (n = 305) were older (p = .005) than eligible non-enrollees (n = 243) and more likely to be female (p < .001). Dose: mean CSA season was 21 weeks (interquartile range [IQR]: 19–23). Median CSA pickup was 88% of the weeks (IQR: 40–100). All sites offered each class at least once. Most adults (77%) and children (54%) attended at least one class; few attended all. Eighty-two percent of caregivers indicated that their household consumed most or all produce. Median lesson activity ratings were 5/5 (“very useful”). Fidelity: CSA locations functioned with integrity to project standards. Educators taught 92% of activities but frequently modified lesson order. This study demonstrates the feasibility of pairing a CO-CSA intervention with nutrition education across geographically dispersed sites. Greater integration of intervention elements and clearer allowance for site-level modifications, particularly for educational elements, may improve intervention dose and, ultimately, impact.