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A Novel Food Pantry Program

Food Security, Self-Sufficiency, and Diet-Quality Outcomes

      Background

      The number of food pantries in the U.S. has grown dramatically over 3 decades, yet food insecurity remains a persistent public health problem.

      Purpose

      The goal of the study was to examine the impact of a food pantry intervention called Freshplace, designed to promote food security.

      Design

      Randomized parallel-group study with equal randomization.

      Setting/participants

      Data were collected from June 2010 to June 2012; a total of 228 adults were recruited over 1 year from traditional food pantries and randomized to the Freshplace intervention (n=113) or control group (n=115), with quarterly follow-ups for 12 months.

      Intervention

      The Freshplace intervention included a client-choice pantry, monthly meetings with a project manager to receive motivational interviewing, and targeted referrals to community services. Control group participants went to traditional food pantries where they received bags of food.

      Main outcome measures

      Data analyses were conducted from July 2012 to January 2013. Outcomes were food security, self-sufficiency, and fruit and vegetable consumption. Multivariate regression models were used to predict the three outcomes, controlling for gender, age, household size, income, and presence of children in the household.

      Results

      At baseline, half of the sample experienced very low food security. Over 1 year, Freshplace members were less than half as likely to experience very low food security, increased self-sufficiency by 4.1 points, and increased fruits and vegetables by one serving per day compared to the control group, all outcomes p<0.01.

      Conclusions

      Freshplace may serve as a model for other food pantries to promote food security rather than short-term assistance by addressing the underlying causes of poverty.
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