Background: The number of food pantries in the U.S. has grown dramatically over 3 decades, yet food insecurity remains a persistent public health problem.
Purpose: The goal of the study was to examine the impact of a food pantry intervention called Freshplace, designed to promote food security.
Design: Randomized parallel-group study with equal randomization.
Setting/participants: Data were collected from June 2010 to June 2012; a total of 228 adults were recruited over 1 year from traditional food pantries and randomized to the Freshplace intervention (n=113) or control group (n=115), with quarterly follow-ups for 12 months.
Intervention: The Freshplace intervention included a client-choice pantry, monthly meetings with a project manager to receive motivational interviewing, and targeted referrals to community services. Control group participants went to traditional food pantries where they received bags of food.
Main outcome measures: Data analyses were conducted from July 2012 to January 2013. Outcomes were food security, self-sufficiency, and fruit and vegetable consumption. Multivariate regression models were used to predict the three outcomes, controlling for gender, age, household size, income, and presence of children in the household.
Results: At baseline, half of the sample experienced very low food security. Over 1 year, Freshplace members were less than half as likely to experience very low food security, increased self-sufficiency by 4.1 points, and increased fruits and vegetables by one serving per day compared to the control group, all outcomes p<0.01.
Conclusions: Freshplace may serve as a model for other food pantries to promote food security rather than short-term assistance by addressing the underlying causes of poverty.
© 2013 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.