Prevention of Diet-related Chronic Disease and Obesity
Abstract: Ensuring that healthy foods are available shelf segment of the emergency food system is important for the families served because of the disparity in diet-related health outcomes experienced by this vulnerable population. In addition, there is a national movement to measure food shelf performance beyond the traditional "pounds of food" distributed and establish a metric for reporting the amount of healthy and local food distributed. One approach to address this practical need is the application of the USDA's Healthy Eating Index (HEI) to quantify the emergency food environment. The purpose of this project is to develop an automated HEI calculation tool that can be used to measure the nutritional quality of food shelf orders placed with food banks. A team of interdisciplinary Co-Principal Investigators (Drs. Nanney and King) along with the leaders in hunger relief, food access and food banking in Minnesota propose research aims that will (1) calculate the HEI for each order made by a randomly selected cohort of 100 food shelves over a nine month period; (2) identify relationships between food shelf characteristics and HEI measures; and (3) determine whether provision of HEI information to food shelves stimulates them to improve the HEI for their bulk purchases. This project takes a first and scalable step towards developing a metric that measures the variety and nutritional value of food purchased by food shelves. It is expected that the findings from this project will identify several meaningful avenues for future research including measuring the impact of healthier food availability upon the satisfaction, diet patterns and health of families served.