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Healthy Selections For Food Pantries, Researchers Examine Low Cost Techniques

First Posted: Jan 28, 2016 03:18 PM EST

Food choices can be overwhelming, while on the other hand, eating healthy can be expensive. Consumers often have difficulties when making selections at food pantries, where they don't always make healthy choices. However, a new study found that simple adjustments in food pantry settings can help consumers make healthier food choices.

Norbert Wilson, researcher of the study, spent over a year where he visited numerous food pantries in New York and Alabama. Wilson then developed a plan, which was based on his observations, conversations and marketing research in food pantries.

Wilson noted in his study that food pantries do offer a range of healthy foods. However, the pantry set-up does not accommodate all consumers.

Unhealthy products are often more visible to consumers compared to healthy ones. For instance, whole wheat pasta may be placed at the bottom of the display or sugar-sweetened beverages may be at the start of a choice set. This ultimately affects shoppers even though they may have unlimited resources. The study also highlights that some consumers struggle with limited resources, thus they are not always able to make the healthy choices.  

"By raising the profile of the healthier products...clients may select these products over less healthy products," Wilson said. "Pantry organizers can help clients even more by making the healthy choice the easy choice."

The findings of this study were published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.

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