Client Choice Food Pantries: Benefits And Barriers

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Martina Wood (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Melissa Gutschall

Abstract: Introduction: Research has shown that using a choice pantry method has the potential to improve client’s nutrition status and improve self-efficacy. However, using this pantry method may not be feasible for many all food pantries. The purpose of this study was to identify effective strategies and potential barriers when offering a client-choice pantry. Materials and Methods: Interviews were conducted with staff members from 7 client-choice pantries across the US. Interviews were conducted by phone or email and consisted of 11 questions regarding the logistics of how the pantry operates. Qualitative data was measured by the frequency with which each concern or benefit was mentioned, and answers were comparatively analyzed for consensus between researchers. Results: All seven pantries food distributed based food distribution on household size. Over half the pantries utilized a shopping method. The primary benefits of the client choice model included personalization of food boxes, eliminating food waste, and a more dignified client experience. The main challenges reported were maintaining consistent inventory and reliance on volunteers.Discussion and conclusions: Study results provided a confirmation of how client choice pantries work most effectively, reflecting the benefits and barriers identified through previous research. Overall, the study confirmed a widespread transition to the client choice method of food distribution and away from the traditional food box model. Future research should continue to explore strategies to overcome barriers for client-choice food pantries. The limitations of the study include the small sample size and the variety in pantries surveyed.

Additional Information

Wood, M. (2020). Client Choice Food Pantries: Benefits And Barriers. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2020
Client-choice, Food Assistance, Food Pantry, Barriers

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