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Strategies for Increasing Participation of Diverse Consumers in a Community Seafood Program

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Alternative food networks, such as farmers’ markets and community-supported agricultural and fishery programs, often struggle to reach beyond a consumer base that is predominantly white and affluent. This case study explores seven inclusion strategies deployed by a community-supported fishery program (Fishadelphia, in Philadelphia, PA, USA) including discounting prices, accepting payment in multiple forms and schedules, offering a range of product types, communicating and recruiting through a variety of media (especially in person), and choosing local institutions and people of color (POC) as pickup location hosts. Our analysis indicated that all of these strategies were associated with increased participation of customers of color and/or customers without a college degree. For Asian customers, accepting cash, offering whole fish, recruiting in-person, and POC-hosted pickup locations were key factors. For Black customers, discounted price, accepting cash, offering fillets, and communicating through means other than email were most important. Discounted price and communicating through means other than email were most important for customers without a college degree. Payment method, payment schedule and communication method were highly correlated with other strategies; we suggest that these strategies work in synergy to make the program attractive and feasible to these customers. We consider how Fishadelphia’s inclusion efforts have benefitted from both tactical approaches (i.e., programmatic features) and a structural approaches (i.e., the people and places represented within the project), and suggest that elements of both tactical and structural inclusion can be applied in other contexts. This work is crucial for increasing food access, and underscores the importance of relationships in recruiting diverse customers.

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The authors thank Fishadelphia’s customers and suppliers, as well as O Masika, M Tran, R Gass, R Jenkins, Z Lindsay-Moore, G Mathis, G Cyril, E Maula, N Dorry, J Stoll, B Dubik, M Provost, W Stellatella, E Bochenek, D Barber, T Brown, C Hansen, J Goldsamt, and P Northing.


This manuscript is the result of research sponsored by the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium (NJSGC) with funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Sea Grant, U.S. Department of Commerce and the NJSGC (NA18OAR4170087). The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NJSGC or the U.S. Department of Commerce (NJSG-23-1012). This research was also supported by the NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy Program and the USDA Local Food Promotion Program (16LFPPNJ0049). EK received funding from the Velay Fellowship through Haverford College, which supports the summer work of female undergraduate students pursuing scientific fields.

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Correspondence to Talia Young.

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TY, GC, KHT, HL, CM, TP, NV, WW, and FY were paid employees or contractors of Fishadelphia during the time of the study.

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The study protocol was approved by the Rutgers University IRB, Pro2019002352.

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Young, T., Cumming, G., Kerns, E. et al. Strategies for Increasing Participation of Diverse Consumers in a Community Seafood Program. J Agric Environ Ethics 36, 18 (2023).

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