Additional Stocking Concerns

With everything you have learned, you may be wondering how you will know which foods to stock.

If you are new to choice at your pantry, it will take time to decipher which foods to focus on stocking. Keep in mind, popular foods move faster. After a few months, it will be easier to see how to best stock your foods, how often to order, and how much is needed.

Prior to making the switch to choice, consider asking your neighbors what they would like to have access to and what foods they don’t enjoy receiving. The items you think may be more popular and those you think are not popular, may not actually be true for your neighbors. If you do not have time to survey neighbors, ask yourself and volunteers these questions:

  • What foods are neighbors asking for?
  • Do you run out of specific foods before others?
  • What foods do you receive back in food drives?
  • What foods do you find in the trash outside of the pantry?
  • What foods can be a challenge to give out?

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Once you answer these questions, you will be on the right path to ordering and stocking your pantry.


Will we run out of food if we switch to a choice pantry?

Choice does not mean guest can take any amount of the foods they want. Pantries have guidelines for how much food guests can take according to household size and pantry inventory. If your pantry is already providing a 3-day package of food, you won’t see any difference in the total amount of food you give out.

Since guests only take what they need, you may notice they need to come less often, which will result in more food on your shelves as well.

One difference you may notice is the quick turnover of the popular foods and more leftovers of the unpopular food.

Does our pantry have to increase our variety of food if we switch to a choice pantry?

Not at all! We will go over ways you can try to increase your variety if you would like to have a more balanced pantry, but it is not required. You can keep the same types of foods. If you usually pre-pack 1 can of each corn, peas, and carrots, now guests can choose between the three and take what they prefer. Maybe they already have corn at home and want to grab a few cans of peas or carrots.

How can we move foods that may spoil and reduce waste?

  • Make a “take what you like” section or “free” section that has no limits. This can get it moving faster or encourage guests who are uncertain if they may like the food to try it since it’s a “freebie.” 
  • Rotate your inventory. Use the First Expired, First Out system.
  • Be generous with fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Provide samples and a recipe that showcase the food item you have an abundance of to encourage neighbors to try new foods.
  • Stage the item by pairing or bundling the item with other food items to show your guests new ways to use the food. Think to-go bonus bag or a meal box utilizing the item in a recipe like a dinner kit.

Section for those who do not have a permanent residence.

You may want to have your stocker set up a shelf designated for those who do not have a permanent residence. These designated items could include ready to eat foods, foods with a long shelf life, and items that do not require a can opener.

Here are two order forms that the Lowcountry Food Bank has used in the past.

Download or print (which ever is easier for you), fill them in like you would to create an order but do your best to create a balanced pantry that reflects a MyPlate. You do not have to turn them into the Lowcountry Food Bank, but if you run into ordering questions feel free to talk to your point of contact in Agency Relations.  

Practice Order Form 1

Practice Order Form 2

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