Online Program

Farm to family: Connecting food, community, and family systems to promote fruit and vegetable consumption

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 4:50 p.m. - 5:10 p.m.

Jessica Hoffman, PhD, NCSP, Department of Counseling & Applied Educational Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Catherine Wirth, MS, Institute on Urban Health Research, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Brandy Brooks, MPA, Community Programs, The Food Project, Boston, MA
Allison Daminger, BA, The Food Project, Boston, MA
Sonia Carter, LN, MSM, Head Start and Children's Services, Action for Boston Community Development, Boston, MA
Carmen Sceppa, MD, PhD, Department of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Introduction. Head Start is the nation's largest federally-funded early childhood education program, serving low-income children disproportionately vulnerable to obesity. Because Head Start's performance standards regarding parent involvement and nutrition offer opportunities to facilitate change in home and school food environments, it is a particularly important national venue for obesity prevention. Approach. Farm to Family (F2F) is a subsidized community supported agriculture (CSA) model designed to make the benefits of CSAs accessible for low-income families. Operating in Boston, MA since 2011, F2F directly addresses logistical barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption including cost, availability and accessibility. CSA shares containing local produce are delivered weekly over 4 months to Head Starts and other community programs that are part of the daily routines of participating families. Families contribute just $5/week for $15 worth of produce, and can pay for their portion of the cost using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, cash or check. The remainder of the cost is subsidized through local grants and donations. Results. F2F served an average of 115 and 128 participants per month in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Program evaluation data demonstrated that F2F is feasible, viable and acceptable to parents, Head Start staff, and a local food producer. There is initial evidence that the model increases vegetable consumption among participants. Discussion. F2F directly addresses access and cost barriers to consumption for low-income families by connecting home, preschool and food systems to make fruits and vegetables easily accessible and affordable to families with limited access to fresh produce.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify the value of the community supported agriculture (CSA) model as an obesity prevention strategy. Describe the components of Farm to Family, a subsidized CSA that connects food, school and family systems to promote fruit and vegetable consumption among low-income families with young children. Formulate reasons why the traditional CSA model should be adapted to accommodate the needs of low-income participants and identify several strategies for doing so.

Keyword(s): Child Health Promotion, Family Involvement

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an expert in the development, implementation and evaluation of school-based interventions designed to promote healthy eating among young children and have been the PI or Co-I on multiple grant funded projects focused on this topic. I was involved in the development of the Farm to Family model and have taken the lead on its evaluation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.