A Cluster-Randomized Evaluation of the SuperShelf Intervention in Choice-Based Food Pantries

Caitlin E. Caspi, Maria F. Gombi-Vaca, Christina Bliss Barsness, Nora Gordon, Marna Canterbury, Hikaru Hanawa Peterson, Julian Wolfson, Rebekah Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Interventions in food pantry settings have the potential to improve health among clients at risk of diet-related disease. Purpose: This study evaluates whether a cluster-randomized, behavioral intervention in food pantries resulted in improved client outcomes. Methods: Sixteen Minnesota food pantries were randomized to an intervention (n = 8) or control condition (n = 8). The intervention offered pantries technical assistance to improve healthy food supply and implement behavioral economics strategies to promote healthy food selection. A convenience sample of adult clients were enrolled (paired sample, 158 intervention, 159 control) and followed for 1 year. Additional clients were enrolled at follow-up to assess food selection (follow-up sample, 85 intervention, 102 control). Analysis was limited to data from 11 pantries (5 intervention, 6 control) due to COVID-19. Outcome measures included Healthy Eating Index-2015 (HEI-2015) total and subcomponent scores for 24-hr dietary recalls and client cart selections, and Life's Simple 7 (LS7) total and subcomponent scores. Multilevel mixed-effects models tested whether client outcomes differed by intervention condition. Results: In adjusted models, there were no statistically significant differences by intervention condition in HEI-2015 or LS7 scores. Clients in intervention food pantries had improved Refined Grain subcomponent scores (p =. 004); clients in control pantries had worsened Saturated Fat subcomponents scores (p =. 019) and improved physical activity scores (p =. 007). Conclusions: The intervention did not result in improved diet quality or cardiovascular health as measured by HEI-2015 or LS7. Coordinated efforts across settings are needed to address health risks facing this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-110
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Society of Behavioral Medicine. All rights reserved.


  • Behavioral economics
  • Food pantries
  • Healthy Eating Index
  • Intervention

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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