Refining and implementing the Food Assortment Scoring Tool (FAST) in food pantries

Caitlin E. Caspi, Katherine Y. Grannon, Qi Wang, Marilyn S. Nanney, Robert P. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Hunger relief agencies have a limited capacity to monitor the nutritional quality of their food. Validated measures of food environments, such as the Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010), are challenging to use due to their time intensity and requirement for precise nutrient information. A previous study used out-of-sample predictions to demonstrate that an alternative measure correlated well with the HEI-2010. The present study revised the Food Assortment Scoring Tool (FAST) to facilitate implementation and tested the tool's performance in a real-world food pantry setting. Design: We developed a FAST measure with thirteen scored categories and thirty-one sub-categories. FAST scores were generated by sorting and weighing foods in categories, multiplying each category's weight share by a healthfulness parameter and summing the categories (range 0-100). FAST was implemented by recording all food products moved over five days. Researchers collected FAST and HEI-2010 scores for food availability and foods selected by clients, to calculate correlations. Setting: Five food pantries in greater Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Subjects: Food carts of sixty food pantry clients. Results: The thirteen-category FAST correlated well with the HEI-2010 in prediction models (r = 0·68). FAST scores averaged 61·5 for food products moved, 63·8 for availability and 62·5 for client carts. As implemented in the real world, FAST demonstrated good correlation with the HEI-2010 (r = 0·66). Conclusions: The FAST is a flexible, valid tool to monitor the nutritional quality of food in pantries. Future studies are needed to test its use in monitoring improvements in food pantry nutritional quality over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2548-2557
Number of pages10
JournalPublic health nutrition
Issue number14
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Food pantry
  • Healthy Eating Index-2010
  • Nutritional quality

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