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Title:Qualitative evaluation of a food pantry fresh produce donation program
Author(s):Gibson, Starr'Retiece
Advisor(s):Prescott, Melissa P.
Contributor(s):Arthur, Anna; Nickols-Richardson, Sharon M.
Department / Program:Food Science & Human Nutrition
Discipline:Food Science & Human Nutrition
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):food pantry
fresh produce
food security
food insecurity
Abstract:In the United States, food pantries and food banks provide free groceries to over 46.5 million individuals annually. Food pantry clients experience high rates of food insecurity (50-84%), even compared to other low-income populations. Food pantries rarely provide fresh produce, and pantry clients generally do not consume enough fruits and vegetables. The objectives of this study were to analyze feedback about a fresh produce food pantry donation program and better understand the factors affecting pantries’ fresh produce distribution. Growing Together Illinois is a University of Illinois Extension program that connects Master Gardeners with food pantries to facilitate fresh produce donations via the establishment of food donation gardens. Extension provided informal educational interventions (cooking demonstrations, tastings, and nutrition education) to pantry clients about how to use produce donations. Participating pantries (n=13) were evaluated using the Nutrition Environment Food Pantry Assessment Tool (NEFPAT) pre- and post-intervention. Staff at a subset of pantries (n=5) participated in interviews focused on their feedback about the program and the barriers that affect distribution of fresh produce at food pantries. There were significant increases from pre- to post-intervention in providing various forms of produce, marketing and nudging healthful products, providing additional resources, and total NEFPAT scores. Interview participants had positive feedback about the program and associated educational interventions, and reported that the weekly timing of donations mitigated potential storage and spoilage issues, despite storage constraints. Findings suggest waste of Growing Together produce at the pantry level was uncommon. Future research should focus on approaches to increase fresh produce options in food pantries while providing clients with education on how to use the produce.
Issue Date:2020-12-10
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Starr'Retiece Gibson
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-03-05
Date Deposited:2020-12

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