Community supported agriculture (CSA) programs have recently received attention for their potential to influence food lifestyle behaviors and health outcomes. We build on and expand inquiries into the relationship between CSA participation and behavior change by presenting the results from a controlled pilot study of first-time CSA shareholders. We offered 95 first-time shareholders a $200 voucher to participate in a CSA. Prior to and immediately following CSA participation, these shareholders completed a survey on food lifestyle behaviors. Using econometric analyses, we measured shareholder behavior changes against an 82 person control group. All participants were drawn from a pool of individuals involved in a university wellness program. From these analyses, we identified potential benefits and changes to shareholders in four unique categories: (1) fresh versus processed food consumption; (2) food prepared at home versus away from home; (3) food purchasing behavior and interest in nutrition; and (4) self-reported health outcomes. Changes within these categories and differences between test and control were more strongly realized in shareholders who reported lower than average health prior to the CSA. We conclude with a discussion about the potential of incentivized CSAs to serve as a novel preventative health intervention.
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The research for this paper was funded by the USDA Ag Marketing Service through a Farm Market Promotion Program grant, 14-FMPPX-KY-0072.
Rossi, Jairus J.; Woods, Timothy A.; and Allen, James E. IV, "Impacts of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Voucher Program on Food Lifestyle Behaviors: Evidence from an Employer-Sponsored Pilot Program" (2017). Agricultural Economics Faculty Publications. 6.