Food banks are important community organizations that provide charitable food assistance to food insecure households. Food banks rely heavily on donated foods and beverages and government supplied foods for their inventory. Until recently, there were no nutrition guidelines for food banks to follow in deciding the types of foods and beverages to accept, procure, and distribute. Recently, Feeding America, the national network organization of food banks, issued a nutrition framework to provide food banks with nutrition criteria for identifying healthful foods and beverages. Food banks are seeking direction in applying nutrition guidelines and generally how to move toward nutrition-focused food banking. This course will explain the importance of this shift toward healthier 'charitable' foods and guide participants through the process of developing food bank nutrition policies to help food bank staff and others in making nutrition improvements in food inventory.
In practice, the process of developing a nutrition policy takes several months, yet this course runs for just 6 weeks. The course is designed to engage participants in real world examples of challenges that food banks encounter with the opportunity to develop skills and competencies before embarking on an actual nutrition policy with a food bank.
Topics covered include:
- Week 1: Hunger and health in the U.S.
- Week 2: Advocating for a food bank nutrition policy (the rationale)
- Week 3: What foods should be part of a food bank nutrition policy?
- Week 4: What are the features of a sound nutrition policy?
- Week 5: Bringing the right stakeholders to the table
- Week 6: Convening a successful nutrition policy working group
This course is primarily designed for:
- Staff and volunteers of food banks, food pantries, and other charitable feeding organizations
- Nutritionists and other public health professionals to whom food bank staff may turn for technical assistance
- Anti-hunger advocates, food policy councils, and community groups who want to better understand and support nutrition focused food banking
- Educators who want to promote “food system literacy,” including the charitable food assistance system
Although the details of the nutrition guidelines, the sources of foods, and the distribution system for emergency foods may differ in other countries, the process, rationale, and course resources for developing a nutrition policy may be useful to adapt.
By completing the three modules in this course you will expand your interest, knowledge, and participation in dialogue with friends, family and coworkers about:
- The problems of hunger, food insecurity, poor nutrition, and the health and well-being of low income populations,
- Programs and strategies, particularly federal food programs, to assist those who are low income and food insecure, and
- How the US charitable food system works and the important role it plays for households with chronic food shortages.
- Become an advocate in your sphere of influence for food bank nutrition policies and the need for food banks to provide healthful foods.
- Become familiar with typical foods in food bank inventories and nutrition guidelines for food banks. Apply knowledge to identify foods that align with nutrition guidelines and promote healthful diets among clients of charitable food assistance.
- Identify key sections and features of sound nutrition policies; and evaluate sample nutrition policies and recommend ways to strengthen them.
- Focus on the process of engaging all stakeholders in developing a nutrition policy; hone your skills in planning and convening a working group to develop a policy that satisfies all stakeholders.