P139 A Trauma-Informed Approach to Charitable Food Distribution: The Nutrition Pantry Program


      This study's objective was to evaluate the change in environment, inventory, policies, services, and overall healthy scores of pantries in the Nutrition Pantry Program (NPP), a trauma-informed policy, systems, and environment (PSE) intervention.

      Use of Theory or Research

      One out of 8 Californians faces food insecurity and 1 out of 7 utilize food pantries. This population also faces higher rates of diet-related diseases and traumatic experiences related to food insecurity. NPP utilizes behavioral economics, trauma-informed principles, and the transtheoretical model of change to create environments that promote healthy choices and mitigate retraumatization.

      Target Audience

      NPP is open to all California pantries; participants included 53 pantries during 2018 and 2019 within the following settings: faith-based, higher-education, general social services, housing, and K-12.

      Program Description

      NPP provides a framework for pantries to provide trauma-informed nutrition security, and lasts on average 10 months. Pantries start by completing the Healthy Food Pantry Assessment Tool (HFPAT) and a client needs assessment and obtaining client feedback. Next, a personalized work-plan is created, and trainings, technical support, and resources are provided.

      Evaluation Methods

      The HFPAT is a validated survey used to evaluate PSE initiatives in pantries. Those using the tool viewed a 2-hour instructional webinar. Researchers analyzed pre- and post-HFPAT scores to evaluate the effectiveness of NPP on pantry practices.


      Fifty-three pantries completed a baseline HFPAT and 19 completed a follow-up HFPAT. On average, overall healthy scores increased by 9 points, with the most improvements in the “Food Distribution to Clients” and “Policies” sections. Sections with the lowest improvements include “Frozen Foods” and “Services for Clients.”


      When given a framework, technical support, and resources, pantries are able to improve their overall “healthy” score by using PSE and trauma-informed interventions. Pantries are, however, limited on changes requiring larger infrastructure investments, such as increased refrigeration/freezer space and increased staff time for support services.
      Funding Bob and Dolores Hope Foundation; CalFresh Healthy Living.

      Appendix. Supplementary data