Local food system projects often incorporate explicit or implicit attention to social inclusion, but actual outcomes have rarely been closely examined. This article develops the concept of social inclusion, drawing particularly on notions of class and community. These themes are explored through a 1997 case study of a Midwest community supported agriculture project (CSA), which sought to increase low-income participation by providing financial subsidies. Analysis is based primarily on a telephone survey conducted with 41 member-households. Although subsidized households had lower incomes than non-subsidized, overall the CSA sample was more advantaged in terms of income, occupation and education than local or regional reference populations. Reasons for CSA participation and levels of participation varied by income, occupation and education, with more advantaged members emphasizing food quality and less advantaged members emphasizing food access reasons for participation. Perceptions of community in the CSA project differed little across income groups, education levels or occupation groups. The article concludes that projects striving for social inclusion may inadvertently serve the “advantaged” poor and offers recommendations for how efforts in local food system development might increase social inclusion.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science