The Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK) in New Haven, Connecticut exists to serve individuals who are food insecure, through the provision of meals. A majority of DESK’s food is sourced through donations and federal programs. A significant portion of these donations are from Yale University Dining, where trays of food from the dining hall are delivered multiple times a week. Connecticut faces a 6.4 percent prevalence of households with low food security, exceeding the 5.2 percent national average (Coleman-Jensen, 2017). Meals served at soup kitchens tend to contain high levels of fat and low levels of fiber, vitamins, and minerals (Lyles et al., 2013; Sisson, 2011), contributing to malnutrition, obesity, high blood pressure, and many other chronic conditions (Sisson, 2011). Currently, there are no national guidelines to regulate the nutrition of meals served specifically at these institutions, allowing for the continued distribution of meals with insufficient nutritional value (Koh et al., 2015; Kourgialis et al., 2001).
Our project would not have been possible without the assistance of many individuals. We thank Steve Werlin and Meagan Howard at DESK for establishing a supportive partnership to complete this project and the clients of DESK in actively engaging with us and welcoming us into their community. We thank Amelia Reese Masterson of City Seed and Dr. Leah Ferrucci of the Yale School of Public Health for guidance and resources regarding the nutritional analysis. Our project benefited immensely from the support and guidance of Nicole Hood and Dr. Debbie Humphries of the Yale School of Public Health as well.