Effect of an Unobtrusive and Low-Cost Nudge on Food Choice Behavior of Food Pantry Clients
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Understanding the effect of food insecurity of vulnerable individuals is necessary to develop strategies for improving lives of those individuals. In this study I explore the effect of a low-cost, unobtrusive intervention on food pantry clients’ choice of healthier food items at a local food pantry. A cross-sectional study was conducted at a food pantry in the Midwest U.S. using the randomized controlled trial method. Participants in the intervention group received a nutrition ranking information about the food items in the pantry during their visit. Both the intervention and control groups reported their food selections. Additionally, client demographic information was collected in surveys. Data were collected from October 2018 to January 2019. A total of 615 adults were recruited and randomized for the nutrition ranking intervention (n=300) and control group (n=315). Multiple linear regression models were used to predict the outcomes of the intervention while controlling for demographic characteristics such as age, gender, household size, and education level. There was no significant response to the nutritional ranking intervention as it appears that the intervention was ineffective at changing behavior. Results suggest that future studies are needed to determine a low-cost intervention for food pantry clients during their short time at the food pantry.