Balancing Household Needs: The Non-food Needs of Food Pantry Clients and Their Implications for Program Planning
In 2009, over 33 million different people used food pantries to supplement their basic food needs. Food pantries are increasingly called upon to provide non-food items. What is unknown is how going without basic household products affects families. This exploratory study aimed to identify personal household products food pantry clients are most likely to find essential for basic living, the consequences for going without, and strategies to procure basic products. Twenty-five food pantry clients were interviewed. Three classes of products were identified: survival, keep the household together, and “make do” products. Consequences of going without basic products include stress, personal degradation, and engaging in illegal activities. Program recommendations include distribution planning and incorporating an awareness of different family coping strategies.