Could delivery of fresh produce to the workplace help people eat more fruits and vegetables? According to a Texas Department of State Health Services study, the Texas-based Farm to Work program increased access to locally grown fruits and vegetables for employees and created a new market for farmers. Increased participation in the program indicated a potential rise in employees' fruit and vegetable consumption.
The Farm to Work program, a community-supported agriculture model, was launched in November 2007 with funding by an obesity-prevention grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program began as a collaborative effort between the nonprofit Sustainable Food Center, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Web development company WebChronic Consulting LLC, and Naegelin Farm. The program provided a weekly or biweekly opportunity for employees to order a basket of produce online to be delivered to the worksite by a local farmer for $10 to $25 per basket.
In 2012, the program expanded to 35 active worksites and generated $851,035 in sales over a 5-year period from November 2007 through December 2012. Worksite participation also increased over the 5-year period. Farm to Work was implemented in 22 government worksites, nine private industry worksites, six nonprofit worksites, and four education worksites. The number of participating worksites increased every year over the 5-year period, with 41 unique worksites; of these, 35 participated in 2012.
"The Farm to Work program has increased access to locally grown fruits and vegetables for consumers and created a new market for local farmers," the study authors conclude. "Increasing participation levels in the [Farm to Work] program suggest that it has the potential to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and prevent diet-related chronic diseases."