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Food Pantry Programs
Analysis of Strategies and Operating Practices, July 2008

This study analyzed the operating practices of food pantries in a number of key areas, including the number of clients served, how pantries get and screen their clients, why clients typically need to access a food pantry, the relationship between pantries and their local food banks, the types and amounts of products distributed, other services provided by pantries, and sources of revenue. In total, 70 food pantry programs participated in this comprehensive study.

The objectives of the study were as follows:

  • Evaluate food pantry program operating practices
  • Survey the practices that food pantry programs have implemented to improve their effectiveness
  • Develop benchmarks to measure effectiveness

Key Conclusions
Food pantries help to meet the needs of clients by supplementing other sources of food. Pantries tend to serve the same clients repeatedly, sometimes for a period of years, and have struggled to keep up with the steadily increasing demand for food. Most pantries do not offer services beyond food distribution that could help make clients more independent and less in need of food supplements. The study uses a best practices scorecard to rank participating pantries using key criteria that focus on objective efficiency and effectiveness measurements.

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