Starting in January 2021, PA Healthy Pantry Initiative (HPI) partnered with SEAMAAC and the Public Health Management Corporation Research and Evaluation Group to develop a survey to assess the dietary, cultural and resource needs of guests who use SEAMAAC’s food pantry. SEAMAAC used those results to review PA HPI materials for cultural relevancy. As a result, PA HPI materials were updated or created to apply to diverse populations. It also became evident that more work was needed on sourcing of culturally familiar foods.
The PA DOH, in partnership with Feeding PA, explored systems changes to enhance the procurement and supply of culturally familiar foods. Dr. Angela Odoms-Young, a Visiting Scholar with Feeding America and an Associate Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, helped to facilitate a new PA Health Equity Food Sourcing Task Force. The task force, comprised of all nine Feeding PA member food banks, met six times in 2022 and worked toward common goals of increasing knowledge and communication on the importance of cultural inclusivity. Each food bank also worked on individual action plans.
Now that BRIC funding has ended, the task force continues to meet quarterly with PA HPI funding. PA HPI is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health through the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.