Poster Theater Flash Session
Community and Public Health Nutrition
Objectives : To assess the current availability of nutrition education resources in Baltimore City food pantries and understand perceived barriers to providing and sustaining these resources.
Formative research in Maryland Food Bank’s (MFB) partner pantries in Baltimore City was conducted using a mixed-methods approach between January and May 2018. Twenty-two pantry managers participated in in-depth interviews (IDIs) about pantry history, food availability, stocking, and distribution. We created and administered a Food Pantry Environmental Checklist (FPEC) to 22 food pantries to assess the availability of food products and educational resources. Changes in the availability of nutrition education resources were assessed over three months.
Results : Nearly half of food pantries (n=11) reported offering suggestions on how to cook foods or recipes at all three visits of FPEC data collection. Few food pantries offered nutrition education classes (n=4), posters (n=2), or flyers (n=0) with nutrition messaging at all visits. Three pantries reported providing no nutrition education resources at any visit. Reported barriers to nutrition education included limited budgets, limited education of pantry managers with nutrition information, and fear of low participation by clients in activities. Pantry managers prioritized using their limited budgets to meet clients’ daily caloric requirements, potentially at the expense of meeting requirements for other nutrients.
Conclusions : The findings from this formative research study aided in the refinement of Maryland Food Bank’s nutrition education and in the development of a novel pilot study. However, the availability of different healthier foods at the pantries offer opportunities to expose families to nutritious foods they otherwise may never have tried. Provision of nutritional education for both workers and clients is needed. Funding for educational tools would be utilized to provide a greater emphasis on educating families about healthier diets to give them autonomy to incorporate these changes on their own. Engaging families to participate in activities are an important consideration of these educational resources.
Funding Sources : Bloomberg American Health Initiative (BAHI) Seed Grant on Obesity and the Food System; Johns Hopkins University Urban Health Initiative (UHI) Small Grant