Healthy F.O.O.D

healthy food studyHealthy F.O.O.D. Study: Feedback On Ordering Decisions


Second Harvest Heartland (SHH) and The Food Group (TFG - formally Emergency Fooshelf Network) are partnering with researchers at the University of Minnesota, United Way of Twin Cities, Intercongregation Communities Association and Twin Cities Hunger Initiative to explore ways to assess the healthfulness of the foods available at food banks and food shelves. Preliminary work suggests that the USDA’s Health Eating Index (HEI) is one tool that could be used to provide feedback about the healthfulness of food. Our research study partnership will further explore the development and evaluation of an automatic HEI feedback system that generates HEI scores from invoice data. 

Food shelves that order from Second Harvest Heartland (SHH) or The Food Group will be given the opportunity to participate in this study unless they choose to opt out. If you do not complete the initial pre-survey, you will not be enrolled into the study. Participants in the study will be asked to share information about their food shelf and food bank orders. This information will remain confidential and will not be shared outside of our research group except in summary form for groups of food shelves that have similar characteristics.

Food shelves that chose to participate will be randomly assigned into two groups. One group will receive feedback about the nutritional quality of their orders on a monthly basis, while the other group will receive the feedback only at the end of the study period in September 2014. All participants also will be asked to complete two short surveys about their food shelf and satisfaction with the feedback tool, once at the beginning of the study in January 2014 and once at the end of the study. Both groups will be eligible for a monthly raffle of free food for their participation.

The benefits of participating in this study include receiving HEI scores on your food bank orders and receipt of the final report of study findings. This information may help inform other food buying decisions and working with donors. In addition, participation in this study may improve how we measure the nutritional quality of the foods in the broader emergency food system.

Please contact our project coordinator, Kate Grannon, or 612-625-7179 with any additional questions or concerns. 

Research Team

research team healthy food

  • Robert King, Co-Principal Investigator, PhD, MS, Professor, Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota
  • Marilyn "Susie" Nanney, Co-Principal Investigator, PhD, MPH, RD Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Program in Health Disparities Research, Medical School, University of Minnesota
  • Kate Grannon, Project Coordinator
  • Mark Janowiec, Data Support
  • Cael Warren, Research Assistant


This project is funded by the Healthy Foods, Healthy lives Institute. The mission of the University of Minnesota Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives (HFHL) Institute is to increase and sustain the University’s impact in the interdisciplinary arena of food, agriculture and health by building the University’s capacity in research, learning and community engagement. The priority areas for focus are food safety, prevention of obesity and chronic disease, and food policy. Within these priority areas, of special importance is the integration of agriculture and medicine.




Robert P. King; Cael Warren; Colin Cureton; Courtney Hoolihan; Katherine Young Grannon; Marilyn S. Nanney. How Healthy Is Hunger Relief Food? American Journal of Agricultural Economics 2016 98 (2): 533-548. doi: 10.1093/ajae/aaw007 Read the abstract

Nanney MS, Grannon KG, Cureton C, Hoolihan C, Janowiec M, Wang Q, Warren C, King RP. Application of the Healthy Eating Index-2010 to the hunger relief system. Public Health Nutrition. 2016 May, 19(16), 2906-2914. Read the abstract. 

Katherine Y. Grannon, Courtney Hoolihan, Qi Wang, Cael Warren, Robert P. King & Marilyn S. Nanney (2016): Comparing the Application of the Healthy Eating Index–2005 and the Healthy Eating Index–2010 in the Food Shelf Setting, Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition. Read the abstract. 


Healthy F.O.O.D. in Food Shelves. Nanney MS, Kratchmer L, Grannon KY, Oral presentation at Food Access Summit. Duluth, Minnesota October 2015. 

Feasibility of Assessing the Healthfulness of the Food Shelf Environment and Lessons Learned. Young K, et al. Poster presentation at the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA). Edinburgh, Scotland June 2015.