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Public Policy and Administration


Gabriel Telleria


Many families that experience hunger in the United States rely on Food Assistance Programs to meet their daily nutrition needs. However, these programs do not always meet the needs of these individuals, as has been the case for individuals living under higher than expected levels of poverty in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Using policy feedback theory (PFT), the purpose of this case study was to explore the experiences of individuals from a county in the Great Lakes region of the United States, who depend on the federal Food Assistance Program, with particular attention given to evaluate the effectiveness of distribution mechanisms in helping these individuals meet their food needs. Data were collected through interviews with 11 program clients, 3 program administrators, as well as publicly available agency data. These data were inductively coded and then analyzed using Braun and Clarke's thematic analysis procedure. Key findings revealed that clients perceived the Food Assistance Program as ineffective in preventing food insecurity without additional programs and resources. The findings also revealed that distribution mechanisms negatively impacted food recipients with limited income, resulting in increased food shortages, requiring recipients to seek additional food programs and resources. These findings also exposed barriers to employment opportunities for recipients, adding to the stress and anxiety experienced from food shortages. Positive social change implications from the findings include providing information to program administrators that can be used to improve the Food Assistance Program, which may in turn improve the lives of those who rely on food assistance programs.

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