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Thrift Stores Funding Food Pantries: A Win-Win Strategy for Nonprofits Serving the Poor?


  • Wodon, Divya
  • Wodon, Naina
  • Wodon, Quentin


In recent years, nonprofits have started operating thrift stores to reinvest earnings from the stores’ sales in other programs for the poor. Martha’s Table, a nonprofit in Washington DC, has adopted such a strategy. It operates Martha’s Outfitters, a thrift store which provides clothing at low cost to its clientele. Earnings from the thrift store help fund other programs, including Pantry Day which provides free bags of food to very low income beneficiaries once a month. After presenting a profile of the beneficiaries of the thrift store and the food pantry programs, this paper discusses how to estimate the combined benefits of the two programs for low income beneficiaries on the basis of client surveys and other data for both programs. The analysis suggests that these benefits are substantial, so that using thrift stores to fund food pantries may indeed be a win-win strategy for nonprofits serving low income populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Wodon, Divya & Wodon, Naina & Wodon, Quentin, 2013. "Thrift Stores Funding Food Pantries: A Win-Win Strategy for Nonprofits Serving the Poor?," MPRA Paper 56941, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:56941

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:dau:papers:123456789/7634 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Valerie Tarasuk & Joan Eakin, 2005. "Food assistance through “surplus” food: Insights from an ethnographic study of food bank work," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 22(2), pages 177-186, June.
    3. Duffy, Patricia A. & Bhattarai, Gandhi Raj & Irimia-Vladu, Marina, 2005. "Regional Differences in Use of Food Stamps and Food Pantries by Low Income Households in the United States," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19420, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
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    Cited by:

    1. Wodon, Divya & Wodon, Naina & Wodon, Quentin, 2013. "How Cost Effective Are Food Pantry Programs for the Poor Likely to Be?," MPRA Paper 56945, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Wodon, Divya & Wodon, Naina & Wodon, Quentin, 2013. "What Drives Client Satisfaction at Non-profit Thrift Stores?," MPRA Paper 56942, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Divya Wodon & Naina Wodon, 2013. "What Drives Individual Sales at Nonprofit Thrift Stores?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(4), pages 2791-2800.
    4. Wodon, Divya & Wodon, Naina & Wodon, Quentin, 2013. "Opening a New Nonprofit Thrift Store: Performance, Competition, Pricing, and Financial Sustainability," MPRA Paper 56943, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Thrift stores; food pantries; nonprofits; poverty; hunger; District of Columbia;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship

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