This study provides economically disadvantaged, minority food pantry patrons (hereafter, patrons) a meaning-ful voice by examining their experiences trying to obtain sufficient, nutritious food. Five focus groups were conducted using a semistructured discussion guide. Atlast.ti software was used to manage and analyze the data. Patrons reported that pantry staff who preserved their dignity by showing compassion were highly valued. Stigma and shame associated with pantry use were major concerns. Patrons suggested environmental and policy changes to improve their food acquisition experiences. These findings suggest that multilevel interventions addressing food access, food distribution policies, and patron-staff interactions are warranted.
Departments of Physical Therapy & Human Movement Science (Dr Greer and Ms Castrogivanni) and Social Work (Dr Cross-Denny), Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut; and Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, Bridgeport, Connecticut (Ms McCabe).
Correspondence: Anna E. Greer, PhD, Department of Physical Therapy & Human Movement Science, Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Ave, Fairfield, CT 06825 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Michelle McCabe is employed by the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, which oversees the food pantries included in the study.
The authors have no other conflicts of interest to disclose.