How can food banks better promote health and nutrition?

Posted: 15 March 2023 | | 1 comment

Researchers at the University of California have developed a tool to help food banks adopt additional strategies to promote health and nutrition.

food bank

With an estimated 53 million people in the US having turned to food banks and community programmes for support in 2021, researchers at the University of California have developed the Food Bank Health and Nutrition Assessment to help organisations evaluate their healthy eating initiatives.

Leading the research, Cassandra Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Cooperative Extension, claimed that this tool will allow food banks to reflect on their current practices and determine whether they can adopt additional strategies to promote health and nutrition. 

“It also serves as a benchmark, which they can use to track their progress over time,” said Nguyen.

According to the researchers, food banks face some common challenges when it comes to promoting nutrition, health and equity. This is something that Nguyen thinks requires more knowledge than simply knowing the types of food stocked on the shelves.

“Food banks can have nutrition policies that outline where they source food and which foods they prioritise when funding is available,” suggested Nguyen.

“They can also ensure that food pantry clients are either represented on advisory boards or are able to provide feedback about foods they would like to receive.”

The research group also highlighted that they think food banks can take steps to make sure that nutrition education materials and information about federal assistance programs for health and nutrition are available in languages spoken by food recipients.

In addition, researchers saw benefits in creating partnerships with organisations outside of the foodbanks themselves, such as local farmers, in order to increase the variety and availability of nutritious foods.

“By having data from this assessment to show that some practices to promote nutrition and health may be difficult to implement, several food banks can raise their voices to advocate for policy changes,” explained Nguyen said.

During the initial development of the Assessment, food banks linked to Feeding America and the Midwest Food Bank in four Midwestern states participated in a sample study.

Although the tool the researchers have created can be used by food bank staff to promote health and nutrition, according to Hunger in America, more than 34 million people in the US were food insecure in 2021. While this was a decline from the 38 million in 2020, the figure suggests that there are other steps involved in supporting food banks when it comes to meeting the current demand. 

One response to “How can food banks better promote health and nutrition?”

  1. Hitesh says:

    Great Article

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