Study Finds Food Pantry Consumers Less Food Insecure Than in Past

Households with children more likely to be food insecure

Green Bay – Local food pantry consumers have reported a much lower rate of food insecurity than in 2009, a study released this week reports. Food insecurity rates of food pantry consumers have fluctuated over the past 15 years, peaking at 89% in 2009 and decreasing to 45% in 2014 according to the report, Food Insecurity, Barriers and Possible Solutions (pdf), released this week. Brown County UW Extension Nutrition Education Program and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay have partnered to monitor trends that will enable the community to engage in action strategies to improve food security in Brown County. Pantry consumers participated in a 20-minute survey given by UW-Green Bay Social Work students in late 2014, answering questions used nationally to measure food insecurity, such as: “The food that we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to get more. Was that often, sometimes, or never true for you in the last 12 months?” The UW-Green Bay Center for Public Affairs assisted with data analysis and reporting.

Among notable findings: a higher proportion of households with children than adult-only households were food insecure; employed pantry consumers reported high rates of food insecurity; the number of food pantry consumers with education beyond high school tripled since 2004; and pantry patrons receiving disability benefits almost tripled since 2009. Borrowing money from a friend or family, not paying utilities on time, and neglecting healthcare continue to be reported as the top strategies used to have enough money for food. Half of respondents reported health conditions and special dietary needs.

Karen Early, M.S., R.D.N., Nutrition Education Program Coordinator at U.W. Extension-Brown County, stated, “As a community, there is an opportunity to address pantry consumers’ keen interest in education on topics such as dealing with stress, selecting healthy food, and being physically active. We hope that the Brown County community will continue to engage and apply this data to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes related to food security within the context of all social determinants of health.” The report is found at www.uwgb.edu/cfpa and www.browncountyextension.org.

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