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 journalArticlepeer-review

21 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

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Target Foundation. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Target Foundation. Data management for this study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (grant number UL1TR000114) from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). The funders had no role in the design, analysis or writing of this article. Conflict of interest: None. Authorship: C.E.C. was responsible for leading the overall study from which these data originated; contributed to formulation of research questions and led manuscript writing; supported carrying out data collection for this study; assisted in obtaining funding for the study. K.Y.G. contributed to formulation of research questions and writing/revision of the manuscript; supported carrying out the study from which these data originated. Q.W. contributed to analysis; made contributions to writing and revising the manuscript. M.S.N. assisted in obtaining funding for the study; guided and provided feedback on the analysis and interpreting results; contributed to manuscript writing and revisions. R.P.K. contributed to formulation of research questions; led and conducted data analysis; contributed to writing and revision of the manuscript. Ethics of human subject participation: This study was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki and all procedures involving human subjects were approved by the University of Minnesota. Verbal informed consent was obtained from all subjects. Verbal consent was witnessed and formally recorded.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors 2018.


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


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