Utilizing the RE-AIM framework to understand adoption of nutrition policies at food pantries across the USA
Emergency food networks consist of food banks, food pantries, and other feeding programs. Food pantries help supplement the diets of low-income populations through direct distribution of food. There is a gap in understanding whether food pantries are adopting nutrition policies to guide food donation and distribution. Guided by the RE-AIM framework, which has been applied to public health policies, this study aimed to determine the adoption of nutrition policies at food pantries across the USA. A secondary research question was to determine if the perceived barriers that food pantries associate with distributing healthful foods differed among pantries with a formal, informal, or no policy. A cross-sectional electronic survey was distributed to a national sample of food pantry directors (N = 5,500). The response rate for the survey was 28% (n = 1,539). Survey respondents were categorized by policy and analyses were conducted to determine differences between the three groups in characteristics and perceived barriers to distributing healthful foods. Two hundred eighty-two pantries (20.9%) were identified as having a formal nutrition policy, 677 (50.2%) were determined to have an informal policy, and 389 (28.9%) had no policy. There were significant differences between mean barrier scores and policy types for 8 of the 10 barriers. More research is needed to better understand how nutrition policies affect donations and distribution of food at food pantries. Using additional RE-AIM dimensions can allow for researchers to fully understand the role these policies have on the nutritional quality of food at food pantries.
Helmick, M. J., Yaroch, A. L., Parks, C. A., Estabrooks, P. A., & Hill, J. L. (2019). Utilizing the RE-AIM framework to understand adoption of nutrition policies at food pantries across the USA. Transl Behav Med. doi:10.1093/tbm/ibz036