This article discusses the process a nonprofit policy advocacy organization (California Food Policy Advocates) and an academic research center (Center for Weight and Health at University of California, Berkeley) went through to develop policy and practice recommendations aimed at improving the nutritional quality of emergency foods. In February 2012, these two organizations convened a one-day meeting of diverse group of 20 key stakeholders with experience and expertise related to emergency food, such as representatives from Feeding America; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; food banks and food pantries; a national, non-profit, anti-hunger organization; a large corporate donor; and state-level organizations within California. The convening was informed by recent studies conducted by the Center for Weight and Health of food bank inventory trends; aspects of food bank culture, capacity, and practices relating to nutrition; and emergency food network (EFN) client preferences. As result of the convening, policy and practice recommendations were developed to establish nutrition standards for government-sourced emergency food and to review tax benefits for commercial food donations. Recommendations were also developed for EFN agencies to establish organizational nutrition guidelines, adopt metrics that incorporate the nutritional quality of distributed food, and advocate improvements to federal safety net programs.
A Model to Drive Research-Based Policy Change: Improving the Nutritional Quality of Emergency Food
Recent Trends in the Nutritional Quality of Food Banks’ Food and Beverage Inventory: Case Studies of Six California Food Banks
This paper examines trends in the nutritional quality of emergency foods in six California food banks from 2007 to 2010. Over the four-year study period, researchers found a substantial increase in fruit and vegetable donations. In 2010, fruits and vegetables accounted for over half, on average, of the total weight … More
Improving the Nutritional Quality of Emergency Food: A Study of Food Bank Organizational Culture, Capacity, and Practices
This paper highlights the results of a national online survey of 137 U.S. food banks and qualitative interviews with senior staff at six California food banks in 2011 regarding the current state of food banks’ nutrition-related organizational culture, capacity, and practices. Researchers found that the majority of U.S. food banks … More
Improving Nutritional Quality of Foods Distributed to Lower-Income Families Through Emergency Food Services
A 2010 study found that there has been a 46% increase since 2005 in the reliance on emergency food by families in need. Surprisingly little is known about the nutritional quality of the food inventory of food bank or pantry programs on which the majority of emergency food clients rely. … More