Munich Personal RePEc Archive

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

Wodon, Divya and Wodon, Naina and Wodon, Quentin (2013): Thrift Stores Funding Food Pantries: A Win-Win Strategy for Nonprofits Serving the Poor?

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Abstract

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.

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