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Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development


Food insecurity and poor dietary consumption continue to impact low-income populations in the U.S. However, communities are developing ways to address it at the local level. Community Food Security Initiatives (CFSI) focus on increasing a sustainable, healthy food supply and food system while addressing food insecurity and dietary quality within a community.

The purpose of this study was two-fold: (1) explore CFSIs in low-income areas in a metropolitan Midwest city and (2) examine the effects of the initiatives along with other social-cognitive factors on fruit and vegetable consumption in persons participating in local CFSIs.

This was a mixed-methods study. First, seven representatives from different CFSIs were interviewed, and factors regarding initiative success were identified. Secondly, a group of 128 community members made up of both CFSI participants and non-CFSI participants completed questionnaires assessing fruit and vegetable intake, dietary-related social cognitive behavior, and socio-demographics.

Several themes emerged from the interviews with the CFSI representatives including challenges, resources, and benefits in developing and sustaining an initiative. A multiple regression analysis was utilized to explain fruit and vegetable behavior across CFSI participation and dietary-related social-cognitive factors, controlling for education and income. The analysis showed that dietary-related social-cognitive factors, not CFSI participation, were an independent predictor of fruit and vegetable intake.

In conclusion, CFSIs may increase food access within a local food system but may have a minimal impact on dietary behavior overall. CFSIs may need to reexamine their operations and identify ways to address not only food access but other social factors such as community empowerment and individual psychosocial factors relating to dietary behavior.

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The journal is published by the Thomas A. Lyson Center for Civic Agriculture and Food Systems, a project of the Center for Transformative Action, an affiliate of Cornell University.


homas A. Lyson Center for Civic Agriculture and Food Systems





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