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Initial Development of a Scored Food Pantry Environmental Assessment E-scan

      Objective

      Develop a scored environmental assessment tool (e-scan) for the food assistance environment. Specific objectives are conducting a literature review; establishing best practices and drafting and cognitively testing an e-scan.

      Study Design, Settings, Participants

      Formative, semi-structured phone interviews were conducted with food pantries (n=13), food banks (n=20), food banks anti-hunger advocates (n=1), and SNAP-Ed/EFNEP food pantry partners (n=7) in the USDA NIFA Western region. A comprehensive review of current healthy food pantry practices was conducted. Pilot tests of a draft e-scan were conducted by one researcher and at least one food pantry representative at each pantry site (n=15). Representatives provided additional feedback through cognitive debriefing interviews.

      Outcome Measures and Analysis

      Interview data were analyzed with Atlas.ti 7 qualitative software using content analysis theory to identify emerging themes.

      Results

      Three main themes were identified from the formative interviews: food procurement strategies, promotion of healthier environments, food assistance efforts outside of pantry settings. Respondents defined “healthy food pantries” as those with regular access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and those giving prominence to the respect and dignity of their clients. A preliminary e-scan (55 scored and 7 unscored questions) was created; each pantry assessment item was supported by research evidence or practice-base evidence. Following review for readability, the e-scan was pilot tested in 15 pantry sites.

      Conclusions and Implications

      The e-scan represents current best practices within food assistance settings. A revised e-scan will be field tested, and a corresponding resource guide will be developed to help pantries improve their assessment scores.

      Funding

      USDA