BackgroundIn 2004–2005, a survey carried out on food recipients in France revealed an alarming nutritional situation. In 2011–2012, and using a protocol similar to that of 2004–2005, our objective was to update the description of sociodemographic characteristics, dietary behaviors and clinical parameters of food assistance recipients and to analyze changes since 2004–2005.MethodsBoth surveys included multistage random sampling of adults benefitting from structures that supply food pantries and charitable grocery stores. Data on sociodemographic characteristics and dietary behaviors were collected along with weight, height and blood pressure measurements. Comparisons between the 2004–2005 (n = 883) and 2011–2012 (n = 1,058) survey observations were made, adjusting for socio-demographic changes which had occurred in the meantime.ResultsSince 2004–2005, proportions of food recipients ≥55 years (13.1–19.1 %), born in France (29.2–36.8 %) and employed (5.5–11.7 %) have increased; food insufficiency has decreased (95–74 %). For over half of the recipients, canned (52.4 %) and non-perishable (50.9 %) foods were obtained only from food assistance. Frequency of consumption significantly increased even after adjustment for socio-demographic changes; this was the case for dairy products (for twice a day consumption, 30.2–36.4 %), fruits and vegetables (three times a day, 7.8–13.9 %), and meat, eggs and fish (twice a day, 9.4–19.2 %). In 2011–2012, 15.6 % of men and 36.0 % of women were obese, while 44.5 and 35.1 % had high blood pressure, respectively.ConclusionsBetween 2004–2005 and 2011–2012 in France, consumption of staple foods has been slightly improved in food assistance recipients. However, prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors remains high, which underlines the need for long-term efforts at better quality of foods delivered.