The Fort Washington Food Pantry is a client choice food pantry.
We follow "End Hunger in America" which explains how pantries scattered across America can redistribute surplus food to needy families and really end hunger in their communities.
It's a simple plan with three main parts:
1. Monetary donations.
2. Donated food from food banks.
3. Clients choice food distribution.
In 2005, we changed our food pantry. We stopped asking our donors for non-perishable food donations. Instead, we ask for money although we do still receive some food from businesses, organizations, and generous individuals.
We stretch our dollars very far by shopping for donated food at the Capital Area Food Bank. Our food bank gathers surplus food donated by manufacturers and retailers. It charges us only 19 cents a pound (a shared maintenance fee) for the food we need.
On distribution day, we spread the food on tables allowing our clients to choose. Families only take the food that they will eat, leaving plenty for the next family.
Since 2005, our cost per family has gone down 90% and our available food is up 900%. This allows us to serve 10 to 20 times the number of families we served before our transformation.
We are very grateful to John M. Arnold of the Second Harvest Gleaners Food Bank of West Michigan, Inc. for his website, www.endhungerinamerica.org and the accompanying book. Maybe these suggestions will make a difference in your community, too.