Presenting author: Cassandra Nikolaus
Co-authors: Emily Loehmer, Emily Laurent, Ruopeng An, Naiman Khan, Jennifer McCaffrey,
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Objective. This study develops and evaluates an assessment tool for the nutrition environment and implementation of recommended practices in food pantries with diverse settings. Study Design and Setting The Nutrition Environment Food Pantry Assessment Tool (NEFPAT) was developed as an observational assessment tool that measures six objectives (increasing client choice, ‘nudging’ healthful foods, diversifying fruit/vegetable forms, diversifying fruit/vegetable types, promoting additional resources, and accommodating alternate eating patterns) within the food pantry environment. The NEFPAT was administered in food pantries across seven Illinois rural and urban counties. Outcome Measures and Analysis. The initial draft of the NEFPAT was pilot-tested by four trained professionals at nine food pantries. After modifications, five food pantry experts evaluated each section and the overall NEFPAT on content validity using a standardized scale of 1-4 (1=’Not Relevant’ to 4=’Extremely Relevant’). Two teams of two professionals each independently assessed three food pantries to determine inter-rater reliability. Results. Pilot-tests indicated the NEFPAT was positively appraised, requiring 20-30 minutes for completion, and testers recommended technical modifications. The NEFPAT’s six objectives and the overall tool were rated as content valid by all experts, with an average section rating of 3.85±0.10. Intra-class correlation coefficients for inter-rater reliability ranged from 0.91-0.95 across the two teams of professionals. Conclusions and Implications. The NEFPAT is a content valid instrument with high inter-rater reliability that can be used to quickly assess the nutrition environment in diverse food pantries. The NEFPAT provides quantitative baseline data for field staff, allowing them to strategically choose effective interventions to improve the food pantry environment.