By studying the nutritional quality of food on food shelves, Cael Warren wants to help the hunger relief system provide more nutritious foods for its clients.
As a member of the Healthy FOOD (Feedback On Ordering Decisions) study team, he has contributed to several research papers that explore nutritional improvements for food shelf offerings in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“This research considers how food shelves can change their policies topromote greater nutrition among their clients,” he says. Researchers also are asking whether information on nutritional quality will help food shelf staff order a more nutritious set of foods for their clients.
The team assigned scores to the nutritional quality of food shelves’ food orders over time, and forthcoming research will evaluate whether food shelves improved the nutritional quality by giving monthly score reports and information on how to improve their scores.
“Recent surveys of clients in food shelves in the Twin Cities have shown that the low-income people who visit food shelves are very interested in providing fresher, more nutritious foods for their families,” Warren says. “Most say they would like more fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets, for example, but they also say that these items are not affordable.”