Emergency food from pantries is no longer being used to meet temporary acute food needs. A majority of our clients now visit food pantries as a “normal” part of their strategy to supplement monthly shortfalls in food.
(54%) of our clients are “frequent” users, meaning they have visited a food pantry monthly for at least six months or more during the past year.
Additionally, over one third of all clients (36%) are “recurrent” users, having visited a food pantry at least every month within the past year
Pantries are now a part of households’ long term strategy to supplement monthly shortfalls in food.
Our SNAP recipients are among the most frequent users.
Among clients currently receiving SNAP benefits, over half (58%) have visited a food pantry monthly for at least six months or more during the past year.
The shorter clients’ benefits last throughout the month, the more likely a client is going to visit a pantry every month.
This speaks to the use of food pantries as a coping strategy for many clients who are receiving limited SNAP benefits.
This research demonstrates what we’ve been seeing anecdotally in our food banks and agencies.
For the first time, we have measured the frequency that people have been relying on food pantries.
For most food banks and pantries, the findings are not a surprise.
This study underscores the ongoing need amongst our clients and the need for continued support of SNAP.
Without SNAP, this continues to create further strain on the network as the number of recurrent and frequent clients use an already over-burdened system along with the growing population of new clients. Feeding America currently serves 37 million individuals each year, up 46% since 2006.
We can also see the beginning of the “perfect storm:” Food prices are going up, food manufacturers are facing their own squeeze in the tough economy, and are responding as one would expect in the market, seeking greater efficiencies, which means fewer donations. Charitable contributions are also harder to come by as more Americans feel the economic squeeze. State and local governments are cutting back on social services.