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Canvas Network

Developing Food Bank Nutrition Policy to Procure Healthful Foods

via Canvas Network

This course may be unavailable.


Food banks are important community organizations that provide charitable food assistance to food insecure households. Food banks rely heavily on donated foods and beverages and government supplied foods for their inventory. Until recently, there were no nutrition guidelines for food banks to follow in deciding the types of foods and beverages to accept, procure, and distribute. Recently, Feeding America, the national network organization of food banks, issued a nutrition framework to provide food banks with nutrition criteria for identifying healthful foods and beverages. Food banks are seeking direction in applying nutrition guidelines and generally how to move toward nutrition-focused food banking. This course will explain the importance of this shift toward healthier 'charitable' foods and guide participants through the process of developing food bank nutrition policies to help food bank staff and others in making nutrition improvements in food inventory.

In practice, the process of developing a nutrition policy takes several months, yet this course runs for just 6 weeks. The course is designed to engage participants in real world examples of challenges that food banks encounter with the opportunity to develop skills and competencies before embarking on an actual nutrition policy with a food bank.

This course is primarily designed for:

  • Staff and volunteers of food banks, food pantries, and other charitable feeding organizations
  • Nutritionists and other public health professionals to whom food bank staff may turn for technical assistance
  • Anti-hunger advocates, food policy councils, and community groups who want to better understand and support nutrition focused food banking
  • Educators who want to promote “food system literacy,” including the charitable food assistance system

Although the details of the nutrition guidelines, the sources of foods, and the distribution system for emergency foods may differ in other countries, the process, rationale, and course resources for developing a nutrition policy may be useful to adapt.


  • Week 1: Hunger and health in the U.S.
  • Week 2: Advocating for a food bank nutrition policy (the rationale)
  • Week 3: What foods should be part of a food bank nutrition policy?
  • Week 4: What are the features of a sound nutrition policy?
  • Week 5: Bringing the right stakeholders to the table
  • Week 6: Convening a successful nutrition policy working group

Taught by

Karen Webb


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