New Resources Aim to Help Charitable Food Sector Better Meet Nutritional and Cultural Food Needs of People They Serve
Today, Feeding America released the Nutrition in Food Banking Toolkit, a resource that aims to support food banks and food pantry programs as they work to address food insecurity and the overlapping challenges posed by structural inequities. Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, is making the toolkit available to the network of 200 member food banks and 60,000 partner food pantries and meal programs. It is also available for download at HungerandHealth.org.
“We know that food insecurity and nutrition insecurity are complex problems that do not exist in isolation,” said Ami McReynolds, chief equity and programs officer at Feeding America. “As we accelerate our efforts to engage with communities impacted by inequitable access to nutritious food, this toolkit will help the charitable food system better serve the millions of people facing hunger in this country by taking a more holistic and localized approach to meeting nutrition needs and honoring individual food cultures.”
The Nutrition in Food Banking Toolkit was developed by Feeding America’s Nutritious Food Revisioning Task Force, made up of more than a dozen food banks and national organization staff, and with input and expertise from partnering organizations. Toolkit partners include Healthy Eating Research (HER); the CDC’s Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network; UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity; University of California Nutrition Policy Institute; MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger; Partnership for a Healthier America; and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The goal of the Task Force, over 16 months, was to help the charitable food sector continue to enhance systems and programmatic efforts geared at understanding and meeting the nutrition and cultural food needs of neighbors facing hunger.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored just how important it is for all people, adults, and children, to have access to nutritious foods and beverages that support their overall health and well-being,” said Mary Story, PhD RD, Program Director of Healthy Eating Research and Professor at Duke University. “Unfortunately, many families in the United States struggle to access healthy food or do not have enough food to eat and rely on the charitable food system to help meet their nutrition needs. This toolkit is an important step forward in helping food banks and food pantries implement strategies to increase their selection and promotion of healthy foods and beverages, including items that are familiar and popular in the cultures of the people they serve.”
This first edition of the Nutrition in Food Banking Toolkit is composed of three main sections, each focused on a different aspect of the charitable food system. HEALTHY EATING RESEARCH (HER) NUTRITION GUIDELINES FOR THE CHARITABLE FOOD SYSTEM provides recommendations to improve the quality of food in food banks and food pantries in order to increase access to healthier food for food-insecure households. APPLYING AN INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE LENS provides insights and recommendations for developing nutrition-related cultural competence at the organizational, partner, and individual levels. ROLE OF FOOD BANK NUTRITION POLICIES: A GUIDE TO ACTION provides food banks with strategies to achieve nutrition policies that lead to a more nutritious food supply.
Along with the publication of the toolkit, Feeding America is awarding $1.2 million in grants to three dozen network member food banks to support the implementation of the toolkit at the local level. The grants are made possible with funding from several donors including Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), which operates through the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas. The Implementation Guide tested and used by grantees will be publicly released as part of the second edition of the toolkit later this year.
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About Feeding America
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, we provide meals to more than 40 million people each year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.