Part of the SNAP-Ed Strategies & Interventions Toolkit.*
The Safe and Healthy Food Pantries Project (SHFPP) is a PSE change intervention designed to improve the food environment and food safety practices within an emergency food pantry. The SHFPP manual provides tools to support the adoption of research-informed strategies likely to expand access and promote safe and healthy food. Users are encouraged to follow an action cycle with 5 steps outlined in the manual (e.g., assessment, strategies, action planning, implementation, and evaluation). The project is implemented and maintained with collaboration between SNAP-Ed educators, food pantry staff and volunteers, and other stakeholders. This team is encouraged to assess where changes can be made including readiness and sources of food procurement. The stand-alone tools help guide the team to plan policies and practices that change the food pantry environment in terms of health and safety. Example strategies include donor education, improvements in food layout or display, signage, procuring local food, and food safety and nutrition policies. Finally, the toolkit emphasizes continuously evaluating and assessing the efforts and changes made in the pantry.
SHFPP began with a formative assessment. The results of this assessment informed the development of project materials and resources, which were then pilot tested by community partners with support from SNAP-Ed educators. Evaluation results of the pilot guided the development of the first edition of the SHFPP in 2015. A process evaluation comprised of key informant interviews and surveys were conducted with educators and food pantry staff/volunteers who field-tested SHFPP. Revisions were made to the first edition of the toolkit, and a second version of the toolkit was released in June 2018.
Pilot testing results demonstrate pantry capacity to self-assess current procurement and distribution practices and develop action plans to improve the nutritional quality and safety of food distributed. Process evaluation shows the recommended team process is key to successful implementation. Pantries have reported that policies helped reduce donation of foods of low nutritional quality. Pantry staff and volunteers report the assistance from educators helped pantry clients’ and volunteers’ accept changes. Program monitoring data reveal that pantries 26 food pantries adopted 41 changes to the food pantry environment to expand access or improve appeal for healthy eating in 2017 and 2018, this number almost tripled with 119 documented changes. Potential reach in 2017 was 530,212 individuals, which included a city-wide donor education campaign in the Green Bay. Potential reach for 2018 was 90,363 individuals and excluded the city-wide education campaign.
Funding Note: Funding for this project was originally provided by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health from the Wisconsin Partnership Program. University of Wisconsin-Extension FoodWIse has adopted the continuation of the project. FoodWIse is federally funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and serves Wisconsin residents with limited incomes.
*SNAP-Ed Strategies & Interventions: An Obesity Prevention Toolkit for States is a compilation of interventions. The toolkit was developed by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, The Association of SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education Administrators (ASNNA), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Center for Training and Research Translation (Center TRT), and the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the USDA. It is designed and updated to help state SNAP-Ed administrative and implementing agencies identify evidence-based obesity prevention programs and policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) strategies and interventions to include in their SNAP-Ed plans.