Magazine article Amber Waves

Food Pantries Provide Emergency Food to More Than One-Quarter of Food-Insecure Households

Magazine article Amber Waves

Food Pantries Provide Emergency Food to More Than One-Quarter of Food-Insecure Households

Article excerpt

Some U.S. households turn to community food resources like food pantries to help meet their food needs and reduce food insecurity. In 2017, 4.7 percent of U.S. households reported getting emergency food from food pantries.

Food pantries distribute unprepared foods for home preparation. These emergency food providers are locally based and rely heavily on volunteers. Many are affiliated with faith-based organizations. Some food pantries are large stand-alone organizations, while some are smaller and located within churches or other community organizations. Most of the food distributed by food pantries comes from local resources and donations, but USDA supplements these resources through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). In fiscal 2017, TEFAP supplied 709.4 million pounds of commodities to community emergency food providers (including both food pantries and emergency soup kitchens).

In 2001, 2.8 percent of U.S. households reported obtaining food from a food pantry. By 2014, the rate had nearly doubled to 5.5 percent of households. This increasing use of food pantries coincided with an increase in food insecurity associated with the 2007-09 Great Recession. Food-insecure households are those that had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. Food-insecure households may turn to food pantries to cope with and alleviate food insecurity. …

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