What is SWAP?
Supporting Wellness at Pantries (SWAP) is a stoplight nutrition ranking system designed to help promote healthy food choices at food banks and food pantries. SWAP is based on the most recent Dietary Guidelines, and the MyPlate Daily Checklist, to rank foods based on saturated fat, sodium and sugar because these nutrients are the most dangerous ones for chronic diseases. SWAP was revised in 2020 to synchronize with the Feeding America newly adopted Nutrition Guidelines for Ranking Charitable Food developed by an expert panel convened by Healthy Eating Research. For more details, see the full report at www.healthyeatingresearch.org.
Why Is This Important?
Studies show that people who visit food pantries experience a double burden of food insecurity and chronic diseases. More than half of the families who visit food pantries have a household member with high blood pressure and one-third have a member with type II diabetes. These chronic diseases can often be prevented, managed, and reversed through the foods we eat. The goal of SWAP is to help increase the supply and demand for healthy food in food banks and pantries.
The key SWAP messages are:
Green = choose often; low in saturated fat, sodium and sugar; supports health
Yellow = choose sometimes; can contribute to good health
Red = choose rarely; high levels of fat, sodium or sugar; think of as treats; limited health benefits
Partner Programs Using SWAP
Food pantries can be ideal settings for healthy eating strategies. In 2017, SWAP was piloted in six food pantries in Connecticut. Several of Foodshare partner food pantries are currently using SWAP to promote healthy food. When partner food pantries and meal programs order food from Foodshare in its online ordering program, they can see foods ranked as green, yellow and red to help them make healthy food choices.
“We're able to give them healthy choices, which is going to help them with their health in the long run.”
Patricia Nelson, St. Monica’s Episcopal Church meal program in Hartford
Using SWAP In Food Banks
Food banks across the country are implementing SWAP to rank their inventories based on nutrition. They are using SWAP to assist partner programs in making healthy food choices when ordering food. Food banks are also using SWAP to have conversations with donors about nutrition and the link between hunger and health to encourage more donations of healthy food choices.
Check out this SWAP two-pager for more information. If you would like to offer SWAP in your food bank, food pantry or meal program, please complete this form:
(SWAP) was developed by researchers at the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) Department of Nutrition and Public Health and SNAP-Ed program, and is a collaboration between USJ, the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, and the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport. Funding to develop SWAP was provided by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Farmington Bank Community Foundation, and the Johns Hopkins Global Obesity Prevention Center.
How You Can Help
Florien and Wanda
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