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Together we can solve hunger.™


This page is going to show you an extremely cost effective way to run the best pantry you possibly can. It actually takes less volunteer hours, less manpower, less money, and your resources and food will go farther which means you will feed more people.

Asking for food assistance in America is a difficult decision for people. As organizations who seek to serve children, seniors and families in need in our community, we should attempt to make our clients' experience as dignified and empowering as possible. After all, the purpose of our work is to help our customers.

We all enjoy exercising choice in our daily lives, so pantry clients should also be able to choose what foods they would like to eat and will be able to use.

Research suggests that if people are given arbitrary selections of food without regard to their needs, tastes, habits, traditions, abilities, and circumstances, up to half the food given will not be consumed by intended beneficiaries. This finding is further supported by first-hand experiences of pantry volunteers and clientele.

There are numerous stories of pantry volunteers who dutifully pre-bag identical grocery bags for distribution, only to later find items from the distribution scattered throughout the parking lot. By giving clients items that they neither want nor can use, valuable food resources in the community are wasted.

One of the most cost effective ways to reduce waste and humiliation is through client choice. Converting your pantry to Client Choice is EASY! It simply means people can CHOOSE what they need and want.

The food pantry is set up like a little grocery store. A variety of food and non-food items (think hygiene and cleaning products) are organized.  People browse the shelves and choose the items they NEED. If there is a popular item, it is ok to put limits on how many a family can take. Otherwise, food pantries should permit clients to pick out what they want and need without further direction. This is by far the "best practice" method of running a food pantry.

Common Misconceptions & Roadblocks:

I don’t have enough space…

You don’t need much space at all. A client choice pantry can be the size of a small closet. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. If you don’t have a storage space, you can put items on tables and still let people choose.

I don’t have enough volunteers…

Running a client choice pantry actually requires LESS volunteers because you don’t have to pre-pack those bags yourself. You can run a client choice pantry with only ONE volunteer.

I don’t have enough food…

You will actually have more food because people are only going to take what they want and need. None of the food in your pantry will be wasted. You will be able to utilize the food bank more because you won’t have to worry about stocking and having specific items.   

The Foodbank Can Help You...  

  1. Tour a client choice pantry & learn from your peers.
  2. Give you ideas on how to organize your space.
  3. Even a very limited amount of choice is better than having no choice at all.
  4. Be creative.
  5. Get feedback from your clients.
  6. Call us for help. 

Together we can solve hunger™


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We work with Partner Agencies to distribute food in our region. Enter your address or zip code to find one closest to you.

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