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

Breanne N. Wright, Clara M. Vasquez-Mejia, Patricia M. Guenther, Lacey McCormack, Suzanne Stluka, Lisa Franzen-Castle, Becky Henne, Donna Mehrle, Dan Remley, Heather A. Eicher-Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-83
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Volume121
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Diet quality
  • Emergency food assistance
  • Food environment
  • Food insecurity
  • Healthy Eating Index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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