The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) conducts research and analyzes data on our operations, our network of hunger-relief partners, and our community in an effort to improve the effectiveness of how we fight food insecurity and improve public health in the Commonwealth. Our findings are used to guide GBFB’s strategy and to inform policy and advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels.
GBFB Health and Research Advisor; Director of Nutrition at Mass General for Children, Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition
A leading expert in obesity and food insecurity, Lauren Fiechtner, MD, focuses her research on social determinants of health, fighting food insecurity, and improving access to food assistance programs. She is the director of the Center for Feeding and Nutrition at Mass General for Children and serves as the Senior Health and Research Advisor at GBFB. Under Lauren’s leadership, she brings the expertise to GBFB from Mass General Brigham’s research team under the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition Equity and partners on annual statewide research on food equity and access for Massachusetts. In addition to her work with GBFB, Dr. Fiechtner has led several controlled trials to treat childhood obesity in clinic and community settings.
The purpose of the Health and Research Council is to advise GBFB’s community-based research, programming, and policy work. GBFB relies on members of this Council to provide guidance on new developments and ideas in their relevant fields of expertise such as public health, public policy, and healthcare administration. Click here to learn about the members of GBFB’s Health and Research Council.
GBFB has conducted annual research throughout the pandemic to examine the prevalence of food insecurity and the barriers to accessing food assistance programs. This is important to GBFB and our hunger-relief partners so that we are able to make data-driven, community-based investments and advance priorities that will have a real impact on the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors.
In 2023, GBFB conducted its third annual statewide food access study in Massachusetts in partnership with Mass General Brigham and with support from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) through a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant. In previous years the research was generously funded by the Hunger to Health Collaboratory (H2HC) and Stop & Shop.
For more information about the design, implementation and presentation of the survey, please read our survey toolkit.
We surveyed 2928 adults in Massachusetts regarding food access in the year before and during the first year of the pandemic. This study describes racial disparities in food insecurity, food pantry use, and barriers to and experiences with food pantries during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people accessing our partner food pantry network doubled and our food distribution increased by 55%. Because of this increased need, GBFB is advocating for increased state and federal support for those facing food insecurity. Read more in our American Journal of Public Health editorial.
Since 2018, we have partnered with Cambridge Health Alliance to host a monthly produce distribution at the Cambridge Health Alliance Revere Care Center. Research is ongoing for quality improvement purposes and to evaluate the effectiveness of the program on improving diet. This work is funded in part by a SIREN grant and a Massachusetts Attorney General Office’s Social Determinants Partnership Grant.
As part of this collaboration, we have published:
The Hunger to Health Collaboratory (H2HC) and Stop & Shop supported the first study of the health-related costs of hunger and food insecurity in Massachusetts. Conducted by Children’s HealthWatch, and released in 2018, the in-depth analysis reports hunger and food insecurity in our state increased health-related expenditures by an estimated $2.4 billion at least, in 2016 alone. For more on the intersection of food insecurity and health, see Food As Medicine: Rethinking Hunger Relief As Health Care (WBUR, 2017).
The map below features GBFB’s town-by-town progress toward our goal of distributing enough food to provide three meals per day for each food-insecure individual in Eastern Massachusetts.
Contact our Business and Data Analytics Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.