We recently surveyed our food pantry clients to get a better idea of their needs and how we are responding to them. A total of 85 clients responded, giving an overwhelmingly positive review of the pantry.
The first set of questions asked about our clients’ needs. In the last year, 60% of our clients or other adults in their household cut the size of their meals or skipped meals because there was not enough money for food, and 46.4% of our clients felt hungry but did not eat because there was not enough money for food. The Community Food Pantry helped these clients by supplying them with food to fill in the gaps that may exist between their salaries and SNAP or other food assistance programs. (SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is run by the Pennsylvania government.) In fact, 58.5% of clients use the food from the Community Food Pantry to feed their families for more than three days.
The next area of the questionnaire dealt with satisfaction with how things are currently run at the pantry. As part of this, 90.6% of the surveyed clients stated that they never have a hard time getting an appointment for the pantry, and 100% stated that the staff and volunteers are sensitive to them as customers. When asked about the quality of staff and volunteers, 81.2% of clients rated them as “superior,” with another 11.8% rating the service “very satisfactory.”
Finally, the clients were asked about a series of changes that could help make the pantry more convenient and helpful for them. Clients were given the opportunity to select the foods that they wanted to see more of; meat, fresh produce and fruit, and milk topped the list. As part of the Plant a Row program, we are accepting donations of fresh produce for the pantry. Additionally, 68.7% of clients said that Sunday hours would be helpful to them, and we are now building a system where the pantry will be open one Sunday per month to accommodate this request.
Some of the respondents included additional comments about the service they have received. “Exceptional people doing an exceptional service and job to help people in dire need,” one client said. “God bless them all in Jewish Family Service-the best.” Other reviews described the staff as “very courteous, kind, understanding and helpful” and the food as “superior, nice variety.”