Experiences of Food Pantry Stakeholders and Emergency Food Providers in Rural Minnesota Communities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study aimed to describe the experiences influencing food pantry stakeholders’ and emergency food providers’ ability to meet their shoppers’ needs. Design: We conducted 5 focus groups. Setting: Food pantries in Minnesota in late 2019 and early 2020. Participants: The sample included 37 participants with various roles in the emergency food system. Phenomenon of Interest: Barriers and challenges facing emergency food providers/stakeholders and practices and resources providers employ. Analysis: We identified major themes using a thematic analysis approach. Results: Participants reported multiple barriers to accessing food pantries, that shopper demographics were changing, and shoppers needed nonfood support, such as personal hygiene items and mental health services. Food pantries required appropriate and sustainable food supplies, additional financial, labor, technical support, and physical infrastructure improvements. Participants described the benefits of their relationship with the University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension, explained how pantries offered healthier foods, highlighted innovative service delivery models, and stressed that their organization connected to many facets of their community. Conclusion and Implications: Food pantries serving rural areas reported meeting community needs by distributing food to their shoppers in an inclusive and health-promoting way but require additional support. These data support nutrition practitioners working to understand the local, place-based context and needs of emergency food providers while building wider and deeper connections between nutrition professionals and the emergency food system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-720
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior


  • access to healthy foods
  • food pantry
  • food security
  • qualitative research

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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