Technical Assistance is Related to Improvements in the Food Pantry Consumer Nutrition Environment

Cassandra J. Nikolaus, Caitlin Kownacki, Zaheeda Darvesh, Jennifer McCaffrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To assess changes in food pantries’ consumer nutrition environment (CNE) after the provision of technical assistance. Design: Pre-post study with 2 phases. Setting: Staff completed observational assessments using the Nutrition Environment Food Pantry Assessment Tool (NEFPAT) at food pantries in an initial pilot phase. Then, staff conducted NEFPAT observations at pantries in Illinois statewide. Participants: In the pilot phase, 6 staff assessed 28 pantries. In the statewide phase, 35 staff assessed 119 pantries. Intervention: After completing an initial NEFPAT at each pantry, technical assistance was provided by staff to support changes in the pantries’ CNE before another NEFPAT observation was completed. Main Outcome Measure: Changes in the CNE, as assessed with the NEFPAT, when comparing preassessment and postassessment. Analysis: Score differences were evaluated with paired t tests. Results: In the pilot phase, among 23 pantries with preassessment and postassessment data, 2 objectives on the NEFPAT observation increased significantly. In the statewide phase, among 66 pantries with preassessment and postassessment data, most NEFPAT objectives and the overall NEFPAT score (22.12 ± 8.16 vs 28.20 ± 7.14, P < 0.001) significantly increased. Conclusions and Implications: Technical assistance provided by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education implementing staff were related to improvements in the CNE of food pantries in Illinois. Future work should evaluate the association of these CNE changes with changes in behavior among pantry patrons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)742-750
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • emergency food
  • food assistance
  • food bank
  • food environment
  • food insecurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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