OBJECTIVE: To gain insight in Dutch food bank recipients' perception on the content of the food parcels, their dietary intake and how the parcels contribute to their overall dietary intake.
DESIGN: Eleven semi-structured focus group discussions were conducted. Focus group topics were based on Andersons food insecurity definition: the lack of availability of nutritionally adequate foods and the assured ability to acquire foods in socially acceptable ways. Data were coded and analysed with Atlas.ti 7.0 software, using the framework approach.
SETTING: Seven food banks throughout the Netherlands.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 44 Dutch food bank recipients.
RESULTS: Food bank recipients were not always satisfied with the amount, quality, variation and type of foods in the food parcel. For the participants who could afford to, supplementing the food parcel was reported as main reason for buying foods, and price was the most important aspect in selecting these foods. Participants were not satisfied with their dietary intake; they mainly reported not having enough to eat. The content of the food parcel importantly influenced participants' overall dietary intake. Finally, participants reported struggling with their feelings of dissatisfaction, while also being grateful for the foods they receive.
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that, despite their best efforts, food banks are not meeting food bank recipients' needs. Our results provide valuable directions for improving the content of the food parcels by increasing the quantity, quality and variation in the foods supplied. Whether this also improves the dietary intake of recipients needs to be determined.