Healthy Food Access in Missouri Food Pantries Through Evidence-Based Intervention
As food insecurity rates have seen a marked increase over the past ten years, a growing number of individuals rely on public and private food programs to meet household food needs. Despite the growing use of food pantries as a consistent food source and the disproportionate occurrence of negative health outcomes among food pantry users, few evidence-based initiatives have been implemented to improve users’ access to healthy foods. Consequently, empirical knowledge about the feasibility and effectiveness of programming as a means for improving healthy food access and well-being amongst pantry users remains limited. In response to this gap, the current study used a strengths-based approach to explore the successes, benefits, and sustainability of an evidence-based healthy food initiative launched in two food pantries. Results from this study indicated that healthy food initiatives can successfully increase access to healthy food options and be sustained post-program involvement. The identification and expansion of community support in program development and implementation are key components to program success. Healthy food initiatives at food pantries should focus on capacity-building efforts to promote community support, program success, and sustainability.
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