The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased food insecurity in the United States. In response to the growing need, food banks and soup kitchens across New York City have adapted by distributing free food boxes in high-need communities. While program evaluations have largely focused on distribution, no study has assessed the consumption of the contents of these boxes and their impact on increasing nutrition.
This study aimed to evaluate the consumption and nutritional impact of food boxes provided by World Central Kitchen on recipients in New York City.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
A study of 391 food box recipients was conducted across 4 New York City boroughs from July 13-September 18, 2020. Key informants identified communities with high food insecurity. A phone survey was conducted by WCK staff to participants waiting in line to receive a food box. Boxes contained either fresh fruits and vegetables only or fresh produce and dairy. Contents were included because of their nutritional values.
Survey responses were imported into a data frame and analyzed to understand consumption and nutritional impact of food boxes. Variables of interest included: demographics, household size, if they were the primary cook in their home, most and least preferred item(s) in the box, items they wished were included, quantity of the box consumed, and reason for unused items.
Of the 391 survey participants, the contents of the food boxes reached 1,398 individuals. Moreover, 90% of participants consumed all of the box's contents, increasing their nutrition.
The high percentage of WCK food boxes completely consumed suggests that boxes offering fruits and vegetables are an effective intervention in improving nutrition for recipients. These findings have important implications for shaping nutritional guidance of future food box programs.