Online Program

Food pantry intervention increases food security, diet quality and self-sufficiency: Results from an 18-month randomized control study

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Katie Martin, Ph.D., Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of Connecticut, Farmington, CT
Michele Wolff, MPH, TRIPP Center, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT
Angela Colantonio, BS, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT
Rong Wu, MS, Biostatistics Center, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT
James Grady, DrPH, Center of Biostistics - CICATS, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington
Introduction The number of food pantries in the U.S. has grown dramatically over the past 30 years, yet food insecurity remains a persistent public health problem. Food insecurity is associated with long-term, negative physical and mental health outcomes in both adults and children, including obesity among women, depression and type 2 diabetes. Freshplace is a novel, community-based food pantry intervention based on the Stages of Change theoretical model. Freshplace is a client-choice fresh food pantry where members meet with a Project Manager monthly to set goals for becoming food secure and self sufficient. Methods Between June 2010 and June 2011, we randomized 228 adults to the Freshplace intervention or control group and followed them for 18 months. Main outcomes were food security, self-sufficiency, and fruit and vegetable consumption. We used multivariate regression models to predict the three outcomes, controlling for gender, age, household size, and income. Results At baseline, half of the sample experienced very low food security. Over one year, Freshplace members were almost one-third as likely to experience very low food security as the control group (OR=0.34; 95% CI 0.18, 0.64) and had significant improvements in self-sufficiency (P=.01) and fruit and vegetable consumption (P<.01). Discussion Freshplace is the first food pantry intervention to be rigorously evaluated. Freshplace may serve as a model for other food pantries to promote long-term food security rather than short-term assistance by addressing the underlying causes of poverty.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the implications of food insecurity on health disparities and diet-related diseases. Describe the Freshplace program and differences among Freshplace members and the control group as they relate to food security, self-sufficiency, and fruit and vegetable consumption. Identify ways in which emergency food assistance programs can be improved to provide more than just charitable food, based on results from this study.

Keyword(s): Food Security, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Principal Investigator for the evaluation of the Freshplace program, and I was responsible for the study design, data collection and analyses. My principal research interests include long-term strategies for reducing food insecurity and health disparities by promoting food and health equity.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.