Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



Background: Poor diet and physical inactivity are among the leading preventable causes of deaths in the United States which disproportionately affect people with low income. A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables may prevent the most common diet-related chronic conditions.

Objective: This study explores factors that affect the ability of low income American families to consume a healthy diet. It also addresses the role of food pantries in providing nutritious food to families at risk of food insecurity.

Methods: An online survey was emailed to 50 food pantries that are members of The Foodbank Inc., Dayton Ohio. Thirty three food pantries completed the survey. Results/Discussion: A majority of food pantries in the Dayton area are run by faith-based organizations. Contradictory to existing literature, most food pantries offer healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Pantries were less likely to offer dairy products, consistent with previous findings. Seventy percent of food pantries reported encouraging clients to eat healthier meals but only 41% encouraged donation of healthier food items. A significant relationship between pantries’ role in encouraging clients to eat healthy foods and providing nutritional information about eating a healthy diet was found. There was no relationship between operational practices and how food pantries offer food or policies that encourage donation of healthy food and source of food.

Conclusion: Findings suggest that nearly all pantries encourage clients to eat healthier diets but few encourage donation of healthy food. Pantries can device creative ways to acquire healthier food to meet increasing demand.

Additional Files

Matie Sangye CE Poster Final.pdf (148 kB)

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Public Health Commons