Evaluation of the Food Bank of Delaware Community Supported Agriculture program

Abbott, Colleen
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University of Delaware
Background: Many individuals are a part of food assistance programs. Most who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are not meeting the Dietary Guidelines for fruit and vegetable intake. A possible strategy to increase SNAP participants' fruit and vegetable intake is to allow them to participate in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA is a program in which individuals from a community invest money into a local farm and share the risks and benefits of the local farm. Aims: The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the success of a CSA program, based on the program's objectives and goals, that accepts SNAP benefits at a reduced rate. The secondary aim was to determine the influence a CSA program had on fresh fruit and vegetable intake in a low-income population. Methods: Subjects were recruited on a volunteer basis from those involved in the Food Bank of Delaware Community Supported Agriculture (FBD-CSA) program. Standardized surveys assessed subjects' perceived ease of accessing fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit and vegetable consumption, and confidence in preparing fruits and vegetables pre and post FBD-CSA program involvement. A focus group was conducted to obtain feedback from a sample of the program's SNAP participants. Opinions of the FBD-CSA program were collected from the FBD staff, farmers who provided produce for the shares, vendors who participated in the farmers' market at Cool Spring Park, and the Bright Spot Venture Worker. Results: There was no statistically significant difference in fruit and vegetable intake pre and post the FBD-CSA program among SNAP participants (n = 45). The focus group showed enjoyment and appreciation for the FBD-CSA program. There were mixed views about the FBD-CSA program amongst the key informants. Conclusion: The FBD-CSA program was successful in achieving most of the program's set goals and objectives. The FBD-CSA program was not successful in SNAP participant retention and no significant changes were seen in fruit and vegetable intake. Numerous changes have been suggested to the FBD-CSA program to become more successful next season.