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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). The objectives of this study were as follows: Conduct a nutritional assessment of the dinners served by DESK, establish effective principles for the DESK menu based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and incorporate client food preferences in menu adaptations.

Publication Date

Spring 2018


public health, food insecurity, nutrition, soup kitchen, Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, New Haven, Connecticut


Public Health

Adapting Dietary Guidelines to Client-Centered Preferences at the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK)