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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic requires urgent implementation of effective community-engaged strategies to enhance education, awareness, and inclusion of underserved communities in prevention, mitigation, and treatment efforts. The Texas Community-Engagement Alliance Consortium was established with support from the United States’ National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct community-engaged projects in selected geographic locations with a high proportion of medically underserved minority groups with a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 disease and hospitalizations. The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of the Consortium. The Consortium organized seven projects with focused activities to address COVID-19 clinical and vaccine trials in highly affected counties, as well as critical statewide efforts. Five Texas counties (Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Hidalgo, and Tarrant) were chosen by NIH because of high concentrations of underserved minority communities, existing community infrastructure, ongoing efforts against COVID-19, and disproportionate burden of COVID-19. Policies and practices can contribute to disparities in COVID-19 risk, morbidity, and mortality. Community engagement is an essential element for effective public health strategies in medically underserved minority areas. Working with partners, the Consortium will use community engagement strategies to address COVID-19 disparities.
Subsidised or cost-offset community-supported agriculture (CO-CSA) connects farms directly to low-income households and can improve fruit and vegetable intake. This analysis identifies factors associated with participation in CO-CSA.
Farm Fresh Foods for Healthy Kids (F3HK) provided a half-price, summer CO-CSA plus healthy eating classes to low-income households with children. Community characteristics (population, socio-demographics and health statistics) and CO-CSA operational practices (share sizes, pick up sites, payment options and produce selection) are described and associations with participation levels are examined.
Ten communities in New York (NY), North Carolina (NC), Vermont and Washington states in USA.
Caregiver–child dyads enrolled in spring 2016 or 2017.
Residents of micropolitan communities had more education and less poverty than in small towns. The one rural location (NC2) had the fewest college graduates (10 %) and most poverty (23 %) and poor health statistics. Most F3HK participants were white, except in NC where 45·2 % were African American. CO-CSA participation varied significantly across communities from 33 % (NC2) to 89 % (NY1) of weeks picked up. Most CO-CSA farms offered multiple share sizes (69·2 %) and participation was higher than when not offered (76·8 % v. 57·7 % of weeks); whereas 53·8 % offered a community pick up location, and participation in these communities was lower than elsewhere (64·7 % v. 78·2 % of weeks).
CO-CSA programmes should consider offering a choice of share sizes and innovate to address potential barriers such as rural location and limited education and income among residents. Future research is needed to better understand barriers to participation, particularly among participants utilising community pick up locations.
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is an alternative food marketing model in which community members subscribe to receive regular shares of a farm's harvest. Although CSA has the potential to improve access to fresh produce, certain features of CSA membership may prohibit low-income families from participating. A ‘cost-offset’ CSA (CO-CSA) model provides low-income families with purchasing support with the goal of making CSA more affordable. As a first step toward understanding the potential of CO-CSA to improve access to healthy foods among low-income households, we interviewed 24 CSA farmers and 20 full-pay CSA members about their experiences and perceptions of the cost-offset model and specific mechanisms for offsetting the cost of CSA. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and coded using a thematic approach. Ensuring that healthy food was accessible to everyone, regardless of income level, was a major theme expressed by both farmers and members. In general, CSA farmers and CSA members favored member donations over other mechanisms for funding the CO-CSA. The potential time burden that could affect CSA farmers when administering a cost-offset was a commonly-mentioned barrier. Future research should investigate various CO-CSA operational models in order to determine which models are most economically viable and sustainable.
To examine cross-sectional associations between farmers’ market shopping behaviours and objectively measured and self-reported fruit and vegetable (FV) intake among rural North Carolina (NC) and New York City (NYC) shoppers.
Cross-sectional intercept surveys were used to assess self-reported FV intake and three measures of farmers’ market shopping behaviour: (1) frequency of purchasing FV; (2) variety of FV purchased and (3) dollars spent on FV. Skin carotenoids, a non-invasive biomarker for FV intake, were objectively measured using pressure-mediated reflection spectroscopy. Associations between farmers’ market shopping behaviours and FV intake were examined using regression models that controlled for demographic variables (e.g. age, sex, race, smoking status, education, income and state).
Farmers’ markets (n 17 markets) in rural NC and NYC.
A convenience sample of 645 farmers’ market shoppers.
Farmers’ market shoppers in NYC purchased a greater variety of FV and had higher skin carotenoid scores compared with shoppers in rural NC. Among all shoppers, there was a positive, statistically significant association between self-reported frequency of shopping at farmers’ markets and self-reported as well as objectively assessed FV intake. The variety of FV purchased and farmers’ market spending on FV also were positively associated with self-reported FV intake, but not skin carotenoids.
Those who shop for FV more frequently at a farmers’ markets, purchase a greater variety of FV and spend more money on FV have higher self-reported, and in some cases higher objectively measured FV intake. Further research is needed to understand these associations and test causality.
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