An evaluation designed by Public Policy Associates, Inc. is helping a Michigan food bank evaluate programming and improve services to people in need. This evaluation produced the first comprehensive data on client characteristics for Feeding America West Michigan’s (FAWM) service area and generated recommendations to help its Mobile Food Pantry Program improve into the future.

The Mobile Food Pantry Program distributions are like farmers’ markets on wheels, delivering to people in need a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and baked goods. The mobile pantries are hosted by churches, schools, and community centers in 32 counties in western Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

With this evaluation, PPA adapted and field tested the Feeding America Client Survey (FACS) tool, which was developed and made available to food banks nationally by the Feeding American national office. The survey tool supports Feeding America member food banks to evaluate and improve their services and develop information useful in grant-seeking and other fundraising.

PPA customized the FACS survey by changing it from an interview format to an online, self-administered tool. More than 600 food pantry clients completed the survey. PPA also facilitated focus groups and interviews to develop a fuller understanding of food bank operations and to identify potential improvements.

“These mobile food banks provide healthy foods for people who are overwhelmingly food insecure. Most have preventable chronic diseases that are associated with diet,” said PPA Director for Healthy Communities Policy, Dr. Nancy McCrohan. “This research will help Feeding American West Michigan in internal and external communications and in fine-tuning operations to make an effective program even better.”

PPA has extensive experience and expertise in evaluating food systems and access to healthy foods. For more information, contact Dr. McCrohan at