Creating Healthier Pantries

 

According to a recent Hunger and Health report from Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)1 we know that food insecurity and health issues often go hand-in-hand. For that reason, the Arkansas Foodbank is working together with key organizations and partners to address food insecurity while promoting health.

Thanks to generous support from Ambetter from Arkansas Health and Wellness, we have made significant strides in our nutrition efforts. Over the past year, the Arkansas Foodbank, with the help of nutrition ambassadors from the University of Central Arkansas and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, has hosted numerous nutrition workshops for our agencies to learn more about providing nutrition education at their pantries. These workshops helped connect 30 agencies to resources they needed to help teach families how to shop smarter, make healthier food choices using nutrition information, and cook affordable meals.

In addition to these workshops, we provided direct client education reaching 32 families through Cooking Matters – a campaign proven to increase positive behaviors such as: choosing fruits and vegetables, decreasing added sugar, and comparing unit prices.

We are excited to announce that this year, we will be furthering our efforts by piloting our Healthy Pantry Initiative (HPI). This initiative will work in phases to recruit and assist agencies in supplying nutritious food and improving the health of food pantry clients. Key parts of HPI include: assessing pantries to determine needs, using marketing materials and layout changes to nudge clients toward healthier choices, increasing healthier inventory, upgrading or adding materials to display and store healthier options and offering hands-on nutrition education with pantry clients.

 

1 Dean, Olivia. “The Impact of Poverty, Food Insecurity, and Poor Nutrition on Health and Well-Being.” Food Research & Action Center, 2017, frac.org/wp-content/uploads/hunger-health-impact-poverty-food-insecurity-health-well-being.pdf.