Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Jeff Unsicker


Food insecurity has steadily risen around the world for the last several decades. The number of people classified globally as hungry has recently increased to over one billion. While the greatest portion of those affected by food insecurity live in the Global South, in the United States over 50 million people are classified as belonging to a food insecure household. Neither the modernization and industrialization of agriculture nor the current food assistance programs offered by USDA have successfully addressed the problems of low-income families in America. In the process of adapting technology-based methods, our small farms and local food systems have suffered. In this paper I will advance the proposition that the community based food systems model is a potentially powerful tool for addressing domestic food security issues and can be an extremely effective vehicle to offer food assistance to low-income families while at the same time supporting the small farms that are at the center of local food systems. This paper is a case study of how Riverhill Farm, a small community sponsored agriculture (CSA) farm, incorporated low-income families through a partnership with Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) into their weekly vegetable distribution program. Twenty out of the 170 weekly shares at Riverhill Farm were subsidized through grant funding and offered to local WIC participants. This project provides some practical lessons for other farms and organizations wishing to take such an approach to food insecurity at the local level. It also points to some broader applications and strategic steps that can be taken to advocate for this type of program to be scaled up as part of a broad locally based approach to food and nutrition assistance services in the United States.


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Agriculture | Civic and Community Engagement | Inequality and Stratification | International and Community Nutrition