Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition, Aging and Chronic Disease, Obesity
The objective of this study was to assess the promotion of MyPlate and the level of interest by pantry coordinators in offering health screenings to their clients at food pantries.
A cross-sectional study was conducted using mixed methods of survey and an observational checklist. The online survey was completed by 31 coordinators at urban food pantries using REDCapTM (version 8.1.2)(56.4% response rate). Ten food pantries were observed for organization of food, shelf labeling, MyPlate promotional items, and spaces for health screenings and group/individual education. Descriptive statistics were completed using Microsoft Excel.
Less than two thirds (61.3%) were choice food pantries and 32.5% organized food by food groups. About half of coordinators rated encouraging MyPlate as high (22.6%) or medium (32.2%) priority. Few (22.6%) promoted MyPlate to their clients, mainly through pamphlets and posters. One third of coordinators encouraged volunteers to provide nutrition information to clients. While one pantry currently provided nutrition training for volunteers, 26% were interested in future training for volunteers. Even though more than half of food pantry coordinators were very (29%) or somewhat (25.8%) interested in providing health screenings to their clients, only 19.3 % currently provided onsite blood pressure screening. Barriers included the lack of professional/trained volunteers, space, and funding for equipment. Findings from the observations showed the organization of foods differed by available space and distribution methods in food pantries and no pantries separated food by alternative options (e.g., regular vs. reduced sodium, reduced fat). In addition, the findings confirmed the promotion methods of MyPlate and limited space for health screening from the survey.
Conclusions : While promoting MyPlate was a priority at most food pantries, few pantries promoted MyPlate. Health screenings were also a priority but could not be actualized due to resource barriers. Exploration of community assets and resources and establishing collaborations with local clinics and academia may be the next step to overcome the barriers.
Funding Sources : College of Allied Health Sciences, University of Cincinnati