Characteristics and self-perceived needs of persons who use an emergency food program

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Lang, Penny L.
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An emergency food service was evaluated to develop a profile of the service users, to identify their self-perceived needs and to assess their support for the development of other services and programs. The data will be incorporated by the service provider into the process of program planning. A screening for general demographic data was completed of all service users on three evenings. Directed interviews were completed with nine participants. The data were analysed using qualitative analysis. The results indicated that the food service users had characteristics consistent with homeless populations described in other studies. While this population had a number of material needs, the desire for increased social support was also identified. Respondents generally did not strongly support the possibility of the provision of other programs or services that would encourage socializing, build skills, provide information or enhance self-esteem and empowerment. They did strongly support the development of an informal, safe meeting place that would provide some social interaction and access to some specific services such as a phone and laundry facilities.