Food pantry selection solutions: a randomized controlled trial in client-choice food pantries to nudge clients to targeted foods.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Food pantries and food banks are interested in cost-effective methods to encourage the selection of targeted foods without restricting choices. Thus, this study evaluates the effectiveness of nudges toward targeted foods.


In October/November 2014, we manipulated the display of a targeted product in a New York State food pantry. We evaluated the binary choice of the targeted good when we placed it in the front or the back of the category line (placement order) and when we presented the product in its original box or unboxed (packaging).


The average uptake proportion for the back treatment was 0.231, 95% CI = 0.179, 0.29, n = 205, and for the front treatment, the proportion was 0.337, 95% CI = 0.272, 0.406, n = 238 with an odds ratio of 1.688, 95% CI = 1.088, 2.523. The average uptake for the unboxed treatment was 0.224, 95% CI = 0.174, 0.280, n = 255, and for the boxed intervention, the proportion was 0.356, 95% CI = 0.288, 0.429, n = 188 with an odds ratio of 1.923, 95% CI = 1.237, 2.991.


Nudges increased uptake of the targeted food. The findings also hold when we control for a potential confounder. Low cost and unobtrusive nudges can be effective tools for food pantry organizers to encourage the selection of targeted foods.

Trial registration number


Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wilson, NLW; Just, DR; Swigert, J; Wansink, B

Published Date

  • June 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 39 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 366 - 372

PubMed ID

  • 27173671

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1741-3850

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1741-3842

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/pubmed/fdw043


  • eng