Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Understanding How Households Combine SNAP and Pantry Assistance

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 8:50 AM
Orchid B (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Alison Jacknowitz1, Anna Amirkhanyan1, Jane Palmer1 and Amy S. Crumbaugh2, (1)American University, (2)Feeding America
Given the prevalence of food insecurity and the recent reduction in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits resulting from the expiration of provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it is important to understand how low-income households utilize SNAP along with other forms of food assistance. To date, there has been limited research exploring how households combine SNAP with assistance from charitable food pantries to feed their families. This study will fill this gap by addressing the following three questions:1) How do SNAP benefits and assistance from food pantries contribute to households’ monthly food budget? 2) When do households use their SNAP benefits and food pantries during a given month? 3) What foods do households typically obtain with SNAP benefits and from food pantries?

To answer these research questions, two phases of data collection were implemented at six pantries within and near Richmond, VA and Baltimore, MD. These two cities were selected due to their similarities in demographics and key differences in SNAP participation and policies. In each city, we identified three pantries for inclusion in the study based on their hours of availability, level of volume and service to clients, urban vs. suburban location, and willingness to participate in the study.

The first phase of data collection relied on a short, closed-ended quantitative questionnaire which captured demographic information of the respondents, as well as information pertaining to their use of the SNAP program and community food assistance programs including pantries, mobile markets, home-delivered meals programs, and backpack programs. This instrument was administered at food pantries to a convenience sample of 310 respondents during the months of September through November 2014.

The second phase of the study involved longer semi-structured qualitative interviews with 71 respondents drawn from the first sample and administered between December 2014 and January 2015. An eligible participant for this phase of the study was one who was not flagged as having any adverse characteristics (e.g., limited cognitive abilities), was between 18 and 59 years old, was currently receiving SNAP benefits, and was either very or somewhat involved in food shopping and meal planning.

Findings generated from data collected during the first phase of data collection are presented through descriptive statistics and simple regression analysis. The analysis of data from semi-structured interviews conducted during the second phase of data collection is aided by the NVivo 10 (QSR International). All interviews are imported into NVivo and subsequently coded and analyzed. The qualitative analysis is conducted using a mix of deductive and inductive strategies.