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Global Obesity Prevention Center

Addressing Obesity through a Novel Food Pantry Intervention: Outcome Evaluation


Project Lead: Katie Martin, PhD




freshplace Many vulnerable low-income families face a double burden of malnutrition as they experience both food insecurity and obesity. Recent estimates show that 14 million children currently receive food from food pantries on a chronic basis that have limited access to healthy, affordable food. 

Food pantries are often overlooked in food system and obesity research, yet they are a key component of the food environment. 

Freshplace is an innovative food pantry model founded in Hartford, CT by three community agencies – Foodshare, Chrysalis Center, Inc., and Junior League of Hartford, Inc. in 2010. The Freshplace model is markedly different than a traditional food pantry as it offers participants:

fresh place 2The model is also a systems change from a community standpoint, as it refocuses anti-hunger efforts toward the underlying issues of poverty that increase the risk of obesity and food insecurity, and brings together multiple community agencies for collective impact.  

Researchers from the University of Saint Joseph conducted the first rigorous evaluation of a food pantry program with a randomized control trial comparing participants in the Freshplace program with traditional food pantries over 18 months. 

Freshplace members were less than half as likely to experience very low food security, increased self-sufficiency by 4.1 points, and increased fruit and vegetable consumption by one serving per day compared to the control group, all outcomes P<.01. Our current efforts involve testing the feasibility and effectiveness of replicating the Freshplace model in additional food pantries in Hartford, CT. 



Specific Aim #1: Determine the effectiveness of the Freshplace model to improve outcomes among food pantry recipients over 9 months.

Based on results from our original research, our hypothesis is that participants will experience increased food security, self-sufficiency, self-efficacy and fruit and vegetable consumption over 9 months. 


Specific Aim #2: Engage national partners to use food pantries as sites for obesity prevention and long-term food security by creating a website for use as an online platform to exchange information.  

The website will be a clearinghouse for sharing results, training materials, lessons learned and resources. 


Sample Presentations


Sample Publications


Additional Information

To learn more and find out how to get involved, please email the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins directly here.