Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Political Science



First Advisor or Mentor

Jennifer Geist Rutledge

Second Reader

Andrew Sidman


Due to its status as a liberal welfare state, the United States has largely relied on charities to provide food assistance to its citizens. This reliance on charity became a particular issue in the context of COVID-19 as the charities were unable to efficiently feed food insecure households. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue of food insecurity within New York City and shown the cracks within the food emergency distribution network. There is limited research on food insecurity nested in welfare state theory that scrutinizes the failures of government. The overall aim of this paper is to explore the effects of the liberal welfare model within the emergency food sphere. This study provides a qualitative look by investigating eleven food pantries through case studies, specially designed to explore the questions: why were New York City responses to food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic so inefficient? and as a related sub-question why do governments rely on charities (food banks, pantries etc.) to feed their people rather than providing adequate food access? The findings show that inefficient government responses were a result of the unintended consequences of the welfare state, COVID-19, and logistical related issues, along with policy failure that contributed to inadequate food access and inefficiencies.


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