Food pantry use among low-income households in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
This study was conducted to understand why some low-income people use pantries and others do not. Telephone and face-to-face interviews were conducted with 400 adults living in households with an income below 185% of the poverty level. Households were selected from a preliminary screening of 25,000 households in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania and included 174 current pantry users and 226 nonusers. Consistent with prior research, most households using food pantries report difficulty adequately feeding their families, and pantry use appears to be evolving into a chronic issue rather than one of short-term emergency. New pantry users are likely to remain pantry users for roughly 2 years. Pantry use is highest among African-American households, single-headed households with children, and households with low levels of education. Regression analysis indicates, however, that pantry use is higher among these groups only because these households are generally the poorest. When variables for income and assets are entered into the regression equation, the only variable significantly related to the probability of using a pantry is whether or not the household owns a car.This latter finding underscores the importance of neighborhood-based pantries and localized food-distribution systems.
Daponte, BO; Lewis, GH; Sanders, S; Taylor, L
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