Food insecurity and the use of soup kitchens among suburban elderly women in two counties in Pennsylvania

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: This paper aims to study the specific factors causing suburban-dwelling elderly American women to patronize different soup kitchens in Pennsylvania and investigate how non-profit and government agencies could better meet the needs of this food-insecure population, to fill a significant gap in the growing literature on food insecurity in high-income countries. Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted observational visits and structured interviews with over 200 patrons and staff of soup kitchens in two counties in the US state of Pennsylvania over visits spanning two years. Findings: Elderly American women have very distinct soup kitchen needs and usage patters that differ from other patrons in eight key ways the authors identify. From these, the authors identify four central themes that food assistance reform in the US must address to improve the wellbeing of this subpopulation. Research limitations/implications: The authors find that significant structural changes of the US food relief system must be made to better meet the needs of food-insecure elderly American women. Practical implications: Soup kitchens should begin to offer information about federal programs, group transportation and other resources tailored to elderly women at soup kitchens to significantly improve their wellbeing, and help relieve the burden born by US non-profit food assistance organizations. Originality/value: No studies to date have focused on the soup kitchen use of this specific population, whose needs, living circumstances, attitudes toward charity and socioeconomic realities differ significantly from other subpopulations of soup kitchen patrons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-562
Number of pages14
JournalHumanomics
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • Economics and Econometrics

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