Nutrition in the Charitable Food System

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For more than a decade, MAZON has led national initiatives to improve the nutritional quality of food within the charitable food system. 

A Tipping Point: Leveraging Opportunities to Improve the Nutritional Quality of Food Bank Inventory

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MAZON is proud to release A Tipping Point: Leveraging Opportunities to Improve the Nutritional Quality of Food Bank Inventory, a groundbreaking research report that highlights opportunities for systemic change within the charitable food system. Food banks nationwide have made great strides to meet the nutritional needs of the people they serve, but there is still more work to be done. 

A Tipping Point reveals findings from a national survey on how nutrition is being addressed by food banks and the proportion of healthy versus unhealthy food being distributed. The report provides analysis and offers key recommendations to help the nation’s food banks decrease the amount of unhealthy food in the system with the goal of improving health outcomes. 

Read the full report here.

Healthy Options, Healthy Meals™

Healthy Options, Healthy Meals™ launched in 2010 as a targeted effort to make healthy and nutritious food more accessible for low-income families.

Supported by generous funding from Kaiser Permanente and technical assistance from MAZON, 12 food banks collaborated to create formal nutrition policies and make nutrition and wellness an organization-wide priority.

Impact Story

Maui Food Bank, Wailuku HI

"Our culture has been shifting since our HOHM work began, and our focus on nutrition has permeated throughout our entire organization. From our messaging, to the foods we purchase, to our clients perceptibility, nutritious foods are the new norm here. 

Our focus on produce has been a major change. At both the purchasing and donation levels, to the foods we offer through programs, our kids café is now blending kale with their smoothies and our soup kitchen aims to provide meals that are nutritious and well-balanced.

Giving up our beloved SPAM (we no longer purchase it!) was tough at first - it’s a staple in Hawaii. But the health of our community is worth any short term frustration that comes along with change."


Phase 1 Partners

Alameda County Community Food Bank, Alameda, CA
Atlanta Community Food Bank, Atlanta, GA
Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO
Capital Area Food Bank, Washington, D.C.
Cleveland Foodbank, Cleveland, OH
Community Food Share, Longmont, CO
Feeding America San Diego, San Diego, CA
Food Bank of the Rockies, Denver, CO
Maryland Food Bank, Baltimore, MD
Maui Food Bank, Wailuku, HI
Oregon Food Bank, Portland, OR
The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, San Diego, CA

CHOP™ Implementation Guide

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A step-by-step plan to help food banks implement the Choose Healthy Options Program (CHOP™), a framework that helps food banks to acquire and distribute more nutritious product. Download Implementation Guide. 

California Nutrition Initiative

MAZON's Nutrition initiative, in partnership with The California Endowment, worked to improve the nutritional quality of food within the emergency food network.

California Advocacy Initiative (1998-2007)

MAZON hosted annual advocacy conferences designed to empower California’s anti-hunger network to:  

  • Effectively engage in anti-hunger advocacy
  • Provide peer-to-peer learning opportunities and coalition-building

Healthy Eating Initiative (2007-2010)

We identified effective strategies and tools to improve the nutrition quality of food within the emergency food network, through: 

  • Organizational change
  • Food distribution
  • Nutrition education
  • Public policy and advocacy
  • Messaging
  • Collaboration and partnership

Resource Guide

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The Resource Guide provides tools and strategies to help board members, executive directors, program staff and other stakeholders in the anti-hunger field integrate healthy food access into their organization’s work. 
Download Resource Guide