Fact Sheet Removing Barriers to Healthy Food Access via a Neighbor-Centered Food Bank
Northern Illinois Food Bank
Julio Salas, Olivia Fiol
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In 2020, the Walmart Foundation awarded grants to 11 community-based projects offering innovative approaches to supporting healthy food access. The grants focused on initiatives that improve access to fresh foods for regions and populations experiencing disproportionately high rates of food insecurity. The Northern Illinois Food Bank, one of the 11 grantees, developed an online ordering platform called My Pantry Express (MPX) for food pantry clients to choose their food items. MPX helped NIFB prioritize client choice and dignity and improve the food bank experience for those facing food insecurity in 13 urban, suburban, and semirural counties outside of Chicago.

Key features of MPX included a streamlined online ordering experience for clients, priority on participant choice and preferences, as well as curbside pickup or home-delivery options to meet clients’ diverse needs We found that MPX’s flexibilities—delivery, online ordering, anonymity, and choosing one’s food—were preferred by food bank recipients and reportedly chipped away at stigma associated with receiving free groceries and meals.

Research Areas Social safety net
Tags Emergency food networks Food insecurity and hunger Hunger and food assistance
Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population Health Policy Center Research to Action Lab
Research Methods Qualitative data analysis
States Illinois
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