Improving Quality of Food Access: An Analysis of the Healthy Food Initiative Project

Kelsey Herron, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The research project aimed to explore the demand, importance, and perceived satisfaction of fresh fruits and vegetables served in food pantries among residents and staff of a subsidized, low-income housing organization based in central Texas using mixed methods. This study additionally aimed to identify best practices for operating a healthy food pantry based within subsidized housing organizations, as well as emerging themes among food pantry clients and staff that consist of mainly of low-income Hispanic, African American, and white populations. In exploring these themes, food pantry clients were surveyed pre and post introduction of an intervention to enhance delivery and promotion of fruit and vegetables at two food pantries that occur twice a month at properties of the identified organization. This study used a serial cross sectional design in which a convenience sample of food pantry clients from two food pantry locations was interviewed pre and post implementation of enhanced fruit and vegetable access and promotion at the pantries. Clients completed a self-completed questionnaire to determine the perceived need of certain food items in the food pantry, perceived satisfaction of the food pantry, as well as healthy and unhealthy dietary practices. Key informants (food pantry staff) involved in the pilot intervention were identified and measured only at post intervention through interviews that aimed to determine perceived benefits, barriers and facilitating factors to operating and providing healthy food in the food pantries. Results indicated a positive change in perceived satisfaction among the food pantry clients. At baseline, 38.5% (n=5) of clients strongly agreed that they liked food that the pantry offers, with 53.8% (n=7) strongly agreeing that the food pantry offered healthy foods at pre-intervention. At 6-month post intervention, 94.1% (n=16) of respondents strongly agreed that they liked the food that the food pantry program offers and that the food pantry offers healthy food (Table3). Most common themes identified as barriers and challenges from food pantry staff key informant interviews were the need to have refrigeration, lack of adequate transportation for delivery of food, lack of adequate staff and lack of time. Findings from this exploratory study suggest positive acceptance and satisfaction of food pantry clients with introduction of increased availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. Findings were consistent with the literature regarding barriers to implementation of interventions at food pantries. Future research should examine how to encourage the selection of healthy foods while decreasing selection of unhealthy foods such as chips, cookies, candies, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Subject Area

Nutrition|Public health|Health education

Recommended Citation

Herron, Kelsey, "Improving Quality of Food Access: An Analysis of the Healthy Food Initiative Project" (2017). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10273957.