Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Biomedical Sciences (M.H.S.)

Degree Program

Biomedical Sciences

First Advisor

Debbie Lown

Second Advisor

Lisa Sisson

Third Advisor

David Zeitler


Background The purpose of food pantries has traditionally been to provide short-term assistance to food insecure individuals, however recent research indicates that food pantries are often used longer periods of time. This increased use indicates a greater importance for food pantries to distribute nutrient-dense foods to food insecure individuals, some who may suffer from chronic disease. Objectives This study measured food pantry client satisfaction pre- and post- implementation of a new healthy food policy at two Grand Rapids, MI food pantries. An additional purpose was to measure the change in food environment and distribution of nutrient-dense foods after implementation of this policy. Subjects Food pantry clients were recruited to complete a survey while waiting to utilize the pantry services. The distribution of foods was determined by completion of a food distribution checklist by pantry volunteers. Methods Pantry clients completed a survey before and after implementation of the new polices. All collection periods lasted one month. Clients completed the pre survey prior to healthy food intervention. Clients then completed the survey at 3 and 6 months post implementation. Pantry volunteers completed the food distribution checklists during the same time periods. Demographic data on the clients was provided by Access of West Michigan. Nutrition Environmental Measurement Survey (NEMS) was used to measure nutrition environment at each pantry at baseline and 6 months post-implementation.

Analysis Frequencies were used to describe discrete characteristics. Food distribution checklists were analyzed for percentage change month to month. Results The pre-surveys indicated clients wanted to have more access to fruits and vegetables. The clients noticed the increase in fruits and vegetables after implementation of the healthy food policy. Client satisfaction remained high throughout the implementation of the healthy food policy. NEMS indicated one of the pantries had an increase in the healthy food environment. The food distribution checklist at one pantry showed a greater amount of fruits/vegetables and whole grains were distributed to clients at both 3 and 6 months post-implementation. Conclusion The new healthy food policy improved the nutrition environment and increased the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains selected by clients.