A descriptive analysis of food pantries in twelve American states: hours of operation, faith-based affiliation, and location

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Riediger, Natalie D.
Dahl, Lindsey
Biradar, Rajeshwari A.
Mudryj, Adriana N.
Torabi, Mahmoud
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Abstract Background Our objectives were to describe both the development, and content, of a charitable food dataset that includes geographic information for food pantries in 12 American states. Methods Food pantries were identified from the foodpantries.org website for 12 states, which were linked to state-, county-, and census-level demographic information. The publicly available 2015 Food Access Research Atlas and the 2010 US Census of Population and Housing were used to obtain demographic information of each study state. We conducted a descriptive analysis and chi-square tests were used to test for differences in patterns of food pantries according to various factors. Results We identified 3777 food pantries in 12 US states, providing an estimated 4.84 food pantries per 100,000 people, but ranged from 2.60 to 7.76 within individual states. The majority of counties (61.2%) had at least one food pantry. In contrast, only 15.7% of all census tracts in the study states had at least one food pantry. A higher proportion of urban census tracts had food pantries compared to rural tracts. We identified 2388 (63.2%) as being faith-based food pantries. More than a third (34.4%) of food pantries did not have information on their days of operation available. Among the food pantries displaying days of operation, 78.1% were open at least once per week. Only 13.6% of food pantries were open ≤1 day per month. Conclusions The dataset developed in this study may be linked to food access and food environment data to further examine associations between food pantries and other aspects of the consumer food system (e.g. food deserts) and population health from a systems perspective. Additional linkage with the U.S. Religion Census Data may be useful to examine associations between church communities and the spatial distribution of food pantries.
BMC Public Health. 2022 Mar 17;22(1):525