University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Research Council


Janet Reilly

Janet Reilly

Fall 2012

"Brown County Public Health Community Improvement Procees and Plan (CHIPP)-Nutrition Focus: Quality and Safety in Food Pantry Donations in Brown County"

Grant in Aid of Research

Final Report: "Collaborating with local health care organizations, health departments, nutrition groups and food pantries, UW Extension, and UW Green Bay students and professors, the Brown County Public Health CHIPP Nutrition Coalition agreed to assess the quality and safety of food items donated to Green Bay area food pantries. Information gathered by this writer from a review of the literature and previously validated food quality and safety survey instruments was shared with the coalition. The coalition charged a UW Extension faculty member to develop and refine a survey instrument, which assessed food labels on donated canned and boxed foods for nutritive value, expiration date, and amounts of carbohydrates, fat, protein, sodium, sugar, and calories. This writer was charged with collection and statistical analysis of data from donated food items. Students and faculty from UW Green Bay nutrition, social work, and public health nursing courses and from a St. Norbert’s College student community advocacy group, ENACTUS, were recruited to help with data collection and analysis. The pilot study occurred in conjunction with the annual Boy Scout food drive central drop off, held on Saturday, October 28, 2012 in the Packer Stadium parking lot. GIAR funding was proposed and received, which provided a small stipend ($66) to each of the eleven students who volunteered to collect and record food label data on a cold Saturday morning, using the instrument developed. While a few things changed since the original proposal, the overall pilot study outcome was achieved. After the data was collected, the UW Extension faculty desired to complete the data and statistical analysis exclusively without help from UW Green Bay or other coalition members, as previously planned. At the time of this writing, UW Extension had no data findings yet to share with the coalition, however anecdotal findings from data collectors were most interesting. The survey goal was achieved, with over 1000 food items surveyed before they were distributed and trucked to local Green Bay area food pantries later that afternoon. Many food items donated were well beyond their expiration date, with the oldest items being more than ten years beyond the stamped expiration date. Many foods donated were non-nutritive, such as jello, cake mixes, or condiments. Lastly, many food items donated were calorie dense, with higher than suggested carbohydrate, sugar, sodium, and fat content and were low in protein. A local Green Bay television news team interviewed data collectors at Packer Stadium. The subsequent television news report and broadcast heightened public awareness of the need for food donations, as well as the need for safe and nutritive food item donations. On behalf of the coalition, this writer wishes to thank the Research Council for the generous grant which helped to inform students and faculty in public health and community focused careers and the general public about potential food quality and safety issues of food items donated."