Judgement Free Zone

Watch this video on sensitivity.


You know your neighbors have a lived experience that is unique. Take the next few minutes to reflect on how your team can improve on recognizing your neighbors’ unique life experiences and create safe, empowering environments with words and actions.

Communication and language are something to consider not just when interacting with guests, but also when describing your pantry and neighbors. When speaking to guests or explaining what your pantry does, focus on ensuring the language used is non-stigmatizing and bias-free. Your volunteers are advocates for your pantry and communication is crucial.

Here is a short 1 pager for you to download. Review the tables. Are there any phrases that stand out? 

Communication Chart

Save this as a reference for later. Other resources are listed in the Appendix, listed here

Asset vs Deficit- Based Language

When you prioritize language that focuses on strengths and potentials, you are using asset-based language. In the communication chart above, the column titled “Try this” is the asset-based language.

When you use words and phrases that look at a situation or people from a “deficit” lens that prioritizes what’s missing or wrong you are using deficit- based language. It can be easy to use deficit-based language while conveying your organization’s purpose or sharing about who you serve. While this can elicit emotion from the external community and drive them to support, this is not the language that empowers our community and instills dignity. When you are communicating in your pantry, pay attention to the language used. If you catch yourself or your volunteers using deficit-based language, take a moment to collect your thoughts and intentionally reframe how you speak.

Practice using language that focuses on strengths and potentials with this activity.

When you’re done, remember to click “Next Lesson”!

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