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A Comparative Analysis of Client Satisfaction with Food Assistance Programs: The Case of Nonprofit and Public Sector Organizations in Alabama and Georgia


The epidemic of poverty, hunger, and food insecurity is at an all-time high in the United States and other parts of the world, spurring great interest in finding solutions to address and alleviate this economic disparity. A multifaceted approach is required, thus warranting exploration of different sectors, organizations, programs and services designed to alleviate this crisis. The rationale for food assistance programs rests mainly on their effectiveness in addressing food insecurity and hunger, thus satisfying the clients who utilize the services by meeting their needs. Current research has, however, failed to properly assess the effectiveness of the programs and services already in place, deciding instead to trust these methods to eventually solve the problem. However, a crucial way to truly understand the issue is to seek the input of the clients who use the services and the employees who administer the services to ascertain their perspectives of what does and does not work. This study attempts to address this deficiency. This project has a threefold purpose: to compare the level of satisfaction of clients of nonprofit organizations versus those of clients of governmental agencies in the delivery of food assistance services; to explore the relationship between organization type and indicators of red tape among clients of nonprofit organizations versus governmental agencies; and to investigate whether employees of governmental agencies would perceive more bureaucratic red tape as hindrances to providing satisfactory services to their clients than employees of nonprofit organizations. In an effort to explore these issues, three hypotheses were developed based on Organization Type and Perceived Red Tape for both clients and employees. A crosstabulation and chi-square between each of the independent variables and the dependent variable, client satisfaction, revealed that most of the hypothesized relationships were not supported. There was no association between organization type and client satisfaction, and governmental agencies were not found to contain more red tape than nonprofit organizations. However, there was an association between organization type and employee perception of red tape. Once this association was established, logistic regression determined that clients were nearly 10 times more likely to be satisfied when they did not perceive red tape. An additional association was made between client comfort with staff and client satisfaction, revealing through logistic regression that when clients are comfortable with staff they are more than 17 times more likely to be satisfied with services. In general, this study points to some important conclusions. It points to the fact that clients are not more satisfied by any specific organizational type, at least as it pertains to nonprofit versus governmental agencies. It also shows that perceived red tape, regardless of organizational type, discourages client satisfaction with services. Furthermore, it also points to the fact that the client’s comfort with staff was the most critical component of their satisfaction with the organization from which they received services.