Implementing food bank and healthcare partnerships: a pilot study of perspectives from charitable food systems in Texas

Nov 06, 2021 | Poulos

BACKGROUND: Partnerships between charitable food systems and healthcare systems have been forming across the country to support individuals and families experiencing food insecurity, yet little research has focused on these partnerships, particularly from a food bank perspective. The objective of this exploratory pilot study was to identify implementation challenges and facilitators of charitable food system and healthcare partnerships from the food bank perspective.

METHOD: Texas food banks with existing food bank/healthcare partnerships were identify through website review and support from Feeding Texas. Interview questions were tailored to each interview, but all focused on identify program components of the food bank/healthcare partnership and implementation barriers/facilitators of the partnership. In total, six interviews were conducted with food bank/healthcare partnership leaders (n = 4) and charitable food system experts (n = 2) about their experiences of working with food bank/healthcare partnerships. All interviews were completed via Zoom and took between 30 and 60 min to completed. Detailed notes were taking during each interview, and immediately discussed with the complete research time to formulate broad implementation themes.

RESULTS: Interviews suggest unique implementation challenges exist at all levels of food bank/healthcare partnerships including the partnership, program, and system levels. Partnership-level implementation challenges focused on issues of partnership scale and data collection, sharing, and analysis. Program-level implementation challenges focused on food and produce expectations. Structural-level implementation challenges included issues of food safety, subsidized food regulations, and patient privacy. Implementation facilitators included leadership support, mission compatibility/organizational readiness, food insecurity training, and identify of partnership champions.

CONCLUSIONS: This study adds to the growing interest in food bank/healthcare partnership as it highlights unique implementation challenges and facilitators for cross-sector partnerships between healthcare systems and community-based charitable food systems. Ultimately, we believe that collaborative discussion among leaders of charitable food systems and healthcare systems is needed to overcome outlined implementation challenges to better facilitate sustainable, equitable implementation of food bank/healthcare partnerships.

PubMed Abstract

Poulos, N. S., Nehme, E. K., O'Neil, M. M., & Mandell, D. J. (2021). Implementing food bank and healthcare partnerships: a pilot study of perspectives from charitable food systems in Texas. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 2025. doi:10.1186/s12889-021-12031-w