When Even the ‘Dollar Value Meal’ Costs Too Much: Food Insecurity and Long Term Dependence on Food Pantry Assistance
About this Publication
Understanding the characteristics of people needing services is key to designing effective anti-
poverty programs. Using time-series data from client files at participating non-profit food pantries, we created profiles of over 500 individuals accessing private, non-profit food assistance from 2005-2008, representing almost 3,966 separate visits. One of the central factors we are considering is whether or not the recipients are already participating in food stamps, the primary government food assistance program. We also focus on the role of employment and household situation, as well as a variety of household and demographic factors. We find the typical client is African American. There is not a typical family size – clients are about as likely to come from a large family as a small one. Pantry clients re port a median income that is 23 percent less than the median county income and 29 percent less than the state median. A client typically visited a pantry 4 times, although a large share visited much more often.
The typical food-secure household spent 26 percent more for food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and composition, including food purchased with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (Source: USDA, 2012)