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Farm to Work, Mending Hearts

Sustainable Food Center is dedicated to supporting Central Texas farms and our communities that can benefit from eating their delicious, healthy, fresh products. We’ve seen the healing power of fresh fruits and vegetables in action, and know it can do much to bridge communities and heal hearts - February is American Heart Month, after all.

Since 2007, SFC’s Farm to Work program has been hard at work helping folks at worksites in Austin, San Antonio, and Houston eat more local, sustainable fruits and vegetables. In that time, we’ve helped facilitate the sales of $1.5 million in healthy produce. Employees enjoy the opportunity to have fresh, local produce delivered directly to their office – often by the farmer who grew it – and stock up on deliciousness for the week. It’s easy, convenient, and helps employees develop real connections with the farmers that serve their worksite. Claire Moore helps coordinate the Farm to Work program at University of Texas, Austin, saying, “We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to get their daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Farm to Work not only makes it easy for employees to buy and use produce, but it also makes it easy for employers to offer the program.”

Because of that, we’ve seen the program positively affect the lives of those that participate with increased health and wellness. In 2012, we worked with Limetree Research and Department of State Health Services to conduct a summative evaluation of Farm to Work. This included all sales between 2007 and 2012.

- Farm to Work Participants ate 3.36 servings of vegetables a day (1 serving = ½ cup) vs. 2.63 for nonparticipants. Fruit intake was 2.63 servings for Farm to work participants vs. 2.18 servings for nonparticipants

- 75% of participants self-reported their health as being “very good” or “excellent” as opposed to 65.1% of nonparticipants.

- Participants self-reported decreased occurrence of heart attacks, diabetes, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and obesity.

It’s important to remember that these statistics are more correlative than causal, but there are certainly strong trends towards increased health by implementing and participating in Farm to Work at your worksite. If you’d like to start Farm to Work at your worksite, here are some criteria to keep in mind:

- Worksites should be interested in promoting health, wellness, and supporting local farms.

- Your worksite should have at least one coordinator for Farm to Work at your worksite who will champion the program through marketing, promotions, and facilitation.

- Worksites should have 200+ employees

- Farm to Work is free!

For more information on starting Farm to Work, please click here or here.

For more statistics and reports on Farm to Work, check out this report published by Center for Disease Control – Farm to Work: Development of a Modified Community- Supported Agriculture Model at Worksites, 2007 - 2012