Lifeway Study: Almost a Quarter of American Families Have Turned to Church Food Pantries for Help

(Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)The U.S. House of Representatives voted 217-200 this week to cut billion from the food stamps program over the next 10 years.

A September Lifeway Research survey reveals that nearly a quarter of Americans have received food from a church-run food pantry. Minorities and churchgoers commonly benefit from church pantries, according to the survey.

The Nashville-based Christian research firm polled 1,158 respondents about church food pantries and found that 22 percent said they have relied on a church program to feed their families. Of those who have received food from a church pantry, 26 percent were churchgoers. Over a third identified as evangelical.

More than one in three church pantry users (37 percent) were African Americans, 25 percent were Hispanic while 19 percent of the pantry users were Caucasian.

Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, said of the survey's results, "There is an abundance of food in the U.S., but plenty of people still go hungry."

Some 50 million Americans struggle to put food on the table, according to national food bank network Feeding America.

By comparison, 43 percent of the people they feed are white, 26 percent are African American and 20 percent are Hispanic.

Over 60 percent of Feeding America's 200-member food banks are faith-based organizations. Together, Feed America banks provide food assistance to 46.5 million Americans annually.

McConnell said of church pantries, "Many churches respond by faithfully following the biblical principle of being open handed to the poor and needy by maintaining well-stocked food pantries to share."