The North Carolina Food Pantry Organizational Capability and Mapping Study

Research Brief and Pilot Study




Capability, Capacity, Food Bank, Food Pantry, Food Resilience, Food Resource Center, GIS Mapping, Resilience, Resource Mapping, Self-Efficacy


Given the importance of food banks to the availa­bility of accessible food, attention to the resilience of regional systems for bringing food from produc­ers to distributors—including local food pantries—is of prime concern. By utilizing a partnership between Appalachian State University and Feeding America, through the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina, we gathered infor­mation regarding the capabilities of seven regional food pantries. This pilot study focused on the capabilities of the selected food pantries to provide food assistance, promote self-efficacy, and address root causes of hunger in their communities. 

We utilized a cross-sectional survey developed at the University of Oklahoma as well as descrip­tive statistics to create resource maps utilizing geo­graphic information systems (GIS) software. This approach provided a model for an upcoming sur­vey of three hundred food pantries located throughout the state of North Carolina to be implemented by Appalachian State University and research partners from the University of North Carolina. The larger study will expand knowledge regarding the best practices for food pantry opera­tions, highlight opportunities to strengthen organi­zational capabilities including nutrition offerings and other wraparound services, support the devel­opment of resource maps to optimize the use of regional and self-efficacy-related resources for low-income clients and communities, and promote the expansion of opportunities for collaboration and funding.

Ultimately, we plan to utilize statewide data to develop a Food Pantry Capability Index based on selected measures encompassing available food assets, financial resources, size of area served, population-specific demographics, and number and type of auxiliary services offered including eco­nomic development initiatives. Such an Index could be used nationwide to assess and improve overall food resiliency and self-efficacy for given communities, counties, regions, and states.

See the press release for this article. 


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Author Biographies

Kyle L. Thompson, Appalachian State University

Department of Nutrition and Health Care Management

Margaret Sugg, Appalachian State University

Department of Geography and Planning

M. Margaret Barth, Appalachian State University

Department of Nutrition and Health Care Management



How to Cite

Thompson, K. L., Sugg, M., & Barth, M. M. (2019). The North Carolina Food Pantry Organizational Capability and Mapping Study: Research Brief and Pilot Study. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(1), 75–87.