With funding from a Highmark BluePrints for the Community (Highmark) grant, Westside Family Healthcare piloted a food access program called “Feeding Families”. The program is designed to address food insecurity, expand access to fresh foods, provide routine nutrition counseling, and teach participants how to better manage their chronic diseases. In 2021, we recruited 51 families to receive fresh foods from home-delivery service Hungry Harvest and to meet virtually with a nutritionist and social service coordinator for customized education. Each particpant received two small kitchen applinces, a set of cooking tools, and a scale, and completed weekly surveys about food security, goal setting, eating habits, and well-being. At the end of one year of particpation, 74.5% of participants were still actively enrolled in the program.
According to final program results, participants demonstrated significant and positive shifts in food security as well as in dietary quality and knowledge; they also reported weight loss. These data points show that the program was a successful demonstration of increasing food access in underserved communities.
- At baseline, 85.7% participants were food insecure (36 of 42 participants); however these rates were significantly reduced by the end of the 24 week intervention period, allowing 10 (27%) of the initial 36 families who were food insecure to become food secure. Among those that remained food insecure, 95% shifted from severe to moderate food insecurity, shifting from “always” worrying their food would run out to the more moderate level of “sometimes.”
- After 24 weeks of intervention, 16.7% of participants reported that their dietary quality was excellent and an additional 23.8% reported that their diets were very good; these are notable shifts from baseline, when no participants (0%) reported their diets qualified as excellent. Further, only 7.1% reported that their dietary quality was very good at baseline.
- After 24 weeks of intervention, 66.7% of participants indicated that they had lost weight since they started receiving their food boxes; only 11.9% said they had not, while 14.3% were unsure. While this was not a planned outcome, this is a notable behavior change because of goal setting.
- Almost 93% of participants reported that they understood how to read a food label, a 26.2% increase from baseline.
Read the full final program report HERE.