Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Kellie Mayfield

Second Advisor

Joy Goetz


As the associations between food insecurity, obesity, and diet-related chronic diseases become more apparent, the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) wants to add an element to their community partnerships, which will target those dealing with diet-related chronic diseases. While many are food insecure and cannot afford to feed themselves and their families, a subgroup of this population is also managing a diet-related chronic illness. These diet-related diseases are important to health and standards of living, potentially causing work absenteeism and undue financial burdens.

The most recent data on food insecurity from 2016, estimated that 13% of Americans had inadequate access to safe, healthy food3, equating to more than 41 million people. Research has shown that the existing system of food pantries around the country are not equipped to serve the portion of this population that is chronically ill and suffering from diet-related diseases.

This project evaluated nutrition programs conducted at food banks around the country to determine best practices for addressing the food security needs of clients with a chronic diet-related disease. Throughout the United States, ten food banks and one health department participated in a 30-60 minute phone interview regarding existing programs aimed at assisting food insecure individuals with a chronic diet-related illness. Data collected from these interviews were combined into a list of four (4) groups of best practices for developing a healthy food pantry or Wellness Pantry; 1) operations, 2) client experiences, 3) nutrition education and nudges, and 4) data tracking and compliance.

The result of this project is a catalog of those best practices, along with support of the Wellness Pantry concept by the ACFB. This catalog will be the script for the ACFB Wellness Pantry Toolkit, which will guide existing food pantries in serving their clients who struggle with food insecurity and chronic disease.