Survey of food pantries in Illinois
Frydrychowicz, Lenore E.
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Over the past decade there has been a noted reduction in spending on many social programs that are designed to assist people at or near the federal poverty level. Many of these programs were designed to provide assistance with food and/or shelter for disadvantaged individuals. This marked decrease in programming has come at a time when unemployment is up. The result of these changes in federal policy has been a shift of responsibility for providing assistance from the federal government to state government and the private sector. This change in focus has placed a rather unexpected demand on private organizations to become a major player in assisting low-income people. The increased role the private sector is playing in hunger relief has been critical. At the present time the role of private organizations in hunger relief has not yet been clearly defined, and thus indicates a need for further study. The purpose of this study was to describe hunger trends and the role of independent organizations in domestic hunger relief. A survey was developed to address client and pantry demographics, trends and causes of hunger. Food pantry directors participating in the study numbered 189. Directors responded to the mailed survey on a computer scanning sheet, along with additional written comments and questions that were written directly on the survey form. Data treatment included frequencies, means and Chi-squares. Responses were summarized and categorized into rural, urban and suburban data. The overall findings revealed that hunger in Illinois is on the rise and private organizations are providing a significant amount of hunger relief. The trends suggest that minority groups may be disproportionately affected by hunger and that the reasons for hunger are related to unemployment and low-paying jobs. And finally, there is a perceived need to educate clients; however, client education is rarely occurring at the present time.