Fruit and Vegetable Healthy Eating Index Component Scores of Distributed Food Bags Were Positively Associated with Client Diet Scores in a Sample of Rural, Midwestern Food Pantries

Published:October 21, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2020.09.033

      Abstract

      Background

      Food pantries have the potential to improve the quality of clients’ diets.

      Objective

      This study evaluated the relationship between the quality of the mix of foods in pantry inventories and client food bags (separately), as assessed by the Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010), with client diet quality and how these relationships varied by food security status.

      Design

      This cross-sectional, secondary analysis used baseline data from the Voices for Food intervention study (Clinical Trial Registry: NCT03566095). A demographic questionnaire, the US Household Food Security Survey Module, and up to three 24-hour dietary recalls on nonconsecutive days, including weekdays and weekends, were collected. Foods available in pantry inventories and distributed in client food bags were recorded at one time point during baseline data collection.

      Participants and setting

      A convenience sample of adult food pantry clients (N = 575) from 24 rural, food pantries in the US Midwest was recruited from August to November 2014.

      Main outcome measures

      Pantry inventories, client food bags, and client diets were scored using the HEI-2010. Main outcomes were client HEI-2010 scores.

      Statistical analyses performed

      Linear regression models estimated associations between HEI-2010 total and component scores for pantry inventories and client food bags (in separate models) and the corresponding scores for client dietary intake. The interaction of client food security status, and potential pantry- and client-level confounders, was considered.

      Results

      Client food bag HEI-2010 scores were positively associated with client diet scores for total vegetables, greens and beans, and total fruit components, whereas pantry inventory HEI-2010 scores were negatively associated with client diet scores for total fruit, total protein foods, and seafood and plant proteins components. Client food bag whole-grains scores were more strongly associated with very low food secure compared with food secure client diet scores (all P values < 0.05).

      Conclusions

      The quality of client food bags, but not of pantry inventories, was positively associated with client diet quality in a rural sample in the US Midwest.

      Keywords

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      Biography

      B. N. Wright is a postdoctoral fellow, Social and Behavioral Sciences Branch, Division of Intramural Population Health Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD.

      Biography

      C. M. Vasquez-Mejia is a graduate research assistant with the Department of Nutrition Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

      Biography

      P. M. Guenther is a research professor, Department of Nutrition and Integrative Physiology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.

      Biography

      L. McCormack is an associate professor, Health and Nutritional Sciences, South Dakota State University, Brookings.

      Biography

      S. Stluka is an associate extension director, Montana State University, Bozeman.

      Biography

      L. Franzen-Castle is an associate professor and extension nutrition specialist, Nutrition and Health Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln.

      Biography

      B. Henne is an associate program leader, extension, Michigan State University, Eaton County Extension Office, Charlotte.

      Biography

      D. Mehrle is a specialist, extension, University of Missouri, Columbia.

      Biography

      D. Remley is an associate professor, extension, Ohio State University, Piketon.

      Biography

      H. A. Eicher-Miller is an associate professor, Purdue University Department of Nutrition Science, West Lafayette, IN.