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Research Projects

Poverty and Social Justice Services at Faith-Based Agencies

This project is looking at characteristics of faith-based poverty abatement and social justice ministries using a set of three surveys:
  • Agency Survey:  is intended for coordinators/ directors/ managers of faith-based agencies. It consists of about 60 questions, and should take less than 30 minutes to complete. No information will be collected that identifies any specific agency or individual. Although anyone interested in hearing more about this study or being involved in later stages of this project will have an opportunity to provide their contact information, this information kept completely separate from the responses to the survey questions. We also have a poster inviting agency guests to complete the Guest Survey; this poster includes a QR code for guests who have smart phones, as well as information about how to find the Guest Survey via the PEPartnership Facebook page. We encourage you to use this to publicize this study to your guests. 
  • Clergy Survey: is intended for pastors, ministers, rabbis, or equivalent of churches, congregations, synagogues, mosques, or other religious organization that has a faith-based agency associated with it. Again, no information will be collected that identifies any specific agency or individual. Although anyone interested in hearing more about this study or being involved in later stages of this project will have an opportunity to provide their contact information, this information kept completely separate from the responses to the survey questions. 
  • Guest Survey: is intended for people who use such poverty and social justice ministries.  No information will be collected that identifies any specific agency or individual. Although anyone interested in hearing more about this study or being involved in later stages of this project will have an opportunity to provide their contact information, this information kept completely separate from the responses to the survey questions. 

We will be collecting data for this study through at least July 31, and possibly into August. The results of this study will be posted here; you can also get more information by contacting Christine Thompson, PEPartnership Executive Director, via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 608-628-3189. Thank you for your help with this study.

Literature Review

One of the first things any student learns about doing any sort of research project is that it's vital to figure out what's already known about the area -- what the "state of the art" is. 

Searching for the "State of the Art" for Food Pantries is a literature review I began in August of 2011, and finished analyzing in early April 2012. It looks at the results of a search through several databases of journals, magazines, newspapers, and other periodicals from 1931 through July 2011, and analyzes the articles by type and focus. Your comments are very welcome; please send them to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I've also posted this as an entry on our blog page, if you would prefer to respond that way. 

As noted in the review, I am planning on at least three more similar studies; as they are finalized, they will be listed here.

Other Interesting Research Projects and Reports

  • Health Care's Blind Side: The overlooked connection between social needs and good health. 
    This report, produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is the result of an online survey of some 1,000 physicians between September 16 and October 13, 2011. 4 out of 5 (85%) of the physicians surveyed said that unmet social needs are directly leading to worse health; in addition, they said that the problems created by unmet social needs are problems for everyone, not just for folks in poverty or financial need. The link here is to the executive summary; the full report can also be found on the RWJF site. 
  • The Grocery Gap: Who has access to healthy food and why it matters. 
    This report was produced by PolicyLink and the Food Trust in 2010. It compiled research reported in some 132 studies, which were split about 50-50 between articles appearing in peer-reviewed journals (most of which would be unavailable to anyone except professionals in the fields covered by those journals) and "grey literature" representing studies, reports, and analyses conducted by local or regional agencies but not formally published. "Public health agencies, community-based organizations, and policy groups frequently conduct primary data analyses of retail food access to inform their activities, but generally do not take the additional steps to submit their studies to journals for publication" (p. 23). I find the report important not only for what it concludes about food availability, but about the need for better communication between "professional" publication sources and in-the-trenches efforts.
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