Use of Food Pantries is Associated with Household Food Insecurity in Ohio

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Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition


Households receiving food from emergency food providers, including food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters, are vulnerable to food insecurity and hunger. The objective of this study was to (1) examine the household food security status of Ohio food pantry users; and (2) compare the household food security status between food pantry users/food pantry using-households for a variety of characteristics, including living in rural and non-rural counties, living in Appalachian and non-Appalachian counties of Ohio, having children present and without children present, as well as having older adults present to not having older adults present. The study design was a cross-sectional survey of Ohio food pantry users in the State of Ohio and included a convenience sample of 6217 food pantry–using households from 82/88 Ohio counties using Household Food Security Status (6-item household food security survey module). Eight hundred ninety (14.3%) households were food secure, and 2210 (35.5%) and 3117 (50.1%) had low food security (food insecurity without hunger) or very low food security (food insecurity with hunger), respectively. Food insecurity and very low food insecurity were more prevalent among non-rural households (p < .001/p < .001), as well as households having children (p < .001/p < .001), not having elderly (p < .001/p < .001), not having someone working full time (p = .004/p = .001), not having a retired member (p < .001/p < .001), and having 12 years of schooling (p < .001/p < .001). Both food insecurity and very low food security were relatively stable regardless of level of income. This study clarifies the household food security status of Ohio food pantry users/food pantry–using households and will be helpful for understanding the nature of food insecurity and hunger among food pantry–using households and for improving community food assistance and food security-related programs.