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Feeding America: Food Stamps or Food Banks?
Many Americans are unable to provide food for their households each month without the assistance of a public supplemental food program, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), or the National School Lunch Program due to barriers that surround food insecurity, such as limited financial resources. Over the last three decades the use of food banks has increased and the demand for food supply among food banks has increased (Shaw, 2009). With the increase in food banks use, the overall participation in the SNAP program has decreased. More people are turning to food banks and food pantries as a source of supplemental food to help them provide food for their households each month and to help with alleviating household food insecurity instead of using benefits from SNAP. The Department of Social Services (DPSS) reported that a total participation in the SNAP program has dropped from 41,549,326 in 2017 to 39,604,428, while the total number of food bank participants has increased. This research paper examines the growing number of food pantries and food bank users, and demonstrates how food banks have become a band-aide (temporary fix) for food insecurity. Feeding America is the nation’s hunger-relief organization which collectively work with more than 200 food banks in the United States. Feeding America food banks feed over 46 million people that suffer from food insecurity, including 12 million children and 7 million senior citizens. One of the food banks that Feeding America provides food to is the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (LARFB). The LARFB distributes food throughout Los Angeles County to food pantries, faith based organization, and schools in order to provide food to needy families that are faced with food insecurity. Focus groups consisting of adult household members of participants of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank’s Back Pack Program, was used to show that people are turning to food banks as a way to assist with food insecurity instead of using food stamps.