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Farmers and wellness programs are working together in a unique program that provides employees with cash vouchers that can be used to subscribe to community supported agriculture programs. The program could potentially reduce employer health care costs and absenteeism rates.

The program began in 2015 as a coalition between the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and UK Health and Wellness. Initially funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, 90 UK employees enrolled in one of four participating CSA programs. CAFE researchers' evaluation showed a definite increase in participants' daily average fruit and vegetable consumption as well as other healthy food and lifestyle choices.

“We find so few kinds of interventions that will really encourage such a broad base of change in diet, change in lifestyle, and change in focus on nutrition,” said Tim Woods, UK agricultural economics professor. “Joining a CSA really seems to pull lots of the right levers.”

Woods and assistant research professor Jairus Rossi have expanded the program to local governments and a few private businesses. The CAFE team has also joined with other wellness and CSA coalition partners to extend this program nationally.

“It is an interesting confluence of health and wellness and sustainability of local food,” Woods said.

-- Carol Lea Spence