Plant-based diets

NSS Inc. ‘Client Choice’ e-commerce sustainable food assistance program receives a community grant from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies to foster the adoption of plant-based diets by seniors participating in the ‘client choice’ food pantry.

July 2021

NSS, Inc. applied for and obtained a multi-year grant from the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven to purchase and install software to manage the operations of its food assistance program. The switch into e-commerce pantry operations using this software fostered ‘client choice’ as seniors select food items from the NSS, Inc. storeroom for ‘customized’ food asssistance packages. Each package from NSS, Inc. is now individualized and composed only of desired foods to be used by pantry participants, thereby eliminating waste of food resources and volunteer effort.

The program,, provides a gateway not only for client choice, but manages food supplies for special diets and dietary patterns, such as Vegetarian and Vegan diets.

Ordering histories of the senior residents at the Davenport Residence demonstrated that a significant number wanted foods to support vegetarian diets. Within two months of e-commerce operations of the food pantry for seniors at Davenport Residences, NSS, Inc. was able to demonstrate that given the opportunity to select their own foods for their assistance packages, there was a drastic decrease in the selection of animal protein foods (meat and dairy items) by the elderly population.

Using graphic illustration of the trends in selection of animal protein foods, the amount of those animal protein foods in September decreased dramatically when the food pantry seniors could choose the food items in their packages, compared with the amount of meat and dairy foods in August when client choice was not available. The number of orders (133 orders) was identical for both months.

Selections of meat products were reduced by 70% and selection of dairy products were reduced by 90% from August to the end of September (graph below).

Elderly consumers represent 19% of the alternative plant-based food market. The determining factors for seniors to make ‘healthy’ food choices in order to follow diets that promote better health are not clearly defined. Occurances of numerous metabolic diseases, inflammatory bowel conditions, and lactose intolerance increase with age, and possibly become drivers for seniors to select fewer animal protein foods (meat and dairy).

Sustainable agricultural projects have always been a continuing initiative of NSS, Inc. through its partnership with Levo International’s development of hydroponic gardening units. There is a strong need for the NSS, Inc. food pantry programs to offer year round fresh produce and therefore foster local indoor agricultural projects for access to a continuous supplies of fresh vegetables.