Poster Paper: Effective Resource Development Strategies to Maximize Nonprofit Food Distribution

Friday, November 8, 2013
West End Ballroom A (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Bethany Slater, State University of New York, Albany
As domestic hunger has grown, the nonprofits that provide food to individuals are struggling to keep pace with demand.  Reliance is increasing with over 3 billion pounds of food provided to an estimated 37 million clients annually (Feeding America, 2012).  Pending cuts to SNAP and other government programs due to the federal deficit will continue to exacerbate this dependence as emergency food programs struggle to maintain food supplies. This study seeks to determine the effects of different fundraising resources and their relationship to food distribution.   How can these nonprofits best target their fundraising strategies to protect their durability in this changing landscape?

The food provided by emergency food programs comes from purchases and donations of food from individuals, businesses, grocers, and government.  While emergency food assistance is delivered by the nonprofit sector, its financing depends on a public-private partnership.  Originally operations were small and relied on donations from individuals and businesses.  Food banks were created across the country to capture excess food and supply it to local programs to decrease the programs’ operating costs. Government policies also contribute to emergency food assistance.  The distribution of commodities through TEFAP was instrumental in providing a second stable source of food (Lipsky & Thibodeau, 1988; Poppendieck, 1998).  Commodities are federal government purchases that are repackaged and distributed to emergency food programs.  Over $260 million was allocated to TEFAP in 2012 (USDA, 2012).  A portion of the $120 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) provides financial assistance to purchase food (EFSP website, 2012).  Within NYS, the Department of Health’s HPNAP program provides $29.7 million in financial support to emergency food programs to assist in acquiring food and alleviating nonfood costs (HPNAP, 2012). 

This paper will evaluate budgets and meals provided using regression analysis among 260 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in upstate New York.   The dependent variable will be annual meals served as reported by the emergency food program.  Independent variables will include total budget for purchased foods, percentage of donated food received, percentage of EFSP funds,  TEFAP food, HPNAP financial support, and other financial support.  The data analyzed is collected by the Food Bank of Central New York.  This data will provide accurate information that is program specific, accurate, and contains a high number of quantifiable observations.  These variables will be analyzed to determine the effects of different fundraising resources and their relationship to food distribution.

The institutionalization of emergency food programs and growing number of individuals seeking food assistance highlights the need to evaluate current fundraising practices.   This public-private partnership has evolved and current resources come in the form of in-kind support (TEFAP, food drives) and cash support (EFSP, HPNAP, fundraising).  As emergency food programs struggle to keep up with increased demand, is one form of support more valuable than another?  This regression analysis can educate practitioners on how to devote their limited capacity to fundraising strategies which maximize their food distribution as well as policymakers in designing effective anti-hunger policy.