Best Practices

Now that you have an idea of which client choice model you will utilize, click the box to check out the best practices that apply to that model.

Best Practices

  • Clients walk through the pantry alone or a team member can walk them through the process.

  • If a team member guides clients through the pantry, this offers a chance to talk about types of food the client chooses. This may lead to discussion about the client needs, how to choose nutritious foods, or how to prepare unfamiliar food.

  • Clients can check out and pack their food in a bag or box with the help of a pantry team member. Team members can use this check out time as a way to see if the client has taken the right amount and type of food that they are allowed based on their family size.

  • Organize food on tables by food groups.

  • If space is an issue, you can arrange tables in a u shape to save space.

  • Volunteers or staff can manage each table to keep it stocked, can walk clients through, or just float to make sure everything is flowing smoothly. It all depends on how many volunteers you have available and the number of clients you serve each pantry day.

  • Plan to have team members before, during, and after pantry hours to set up, supervise, clean, and take down tables.

  • Work in pairs to lift heavy cases or containers of food on to tables.

  • If outdoors, be mindful of foods that need to be refrigerated.

  • Use pictures of the specific items in the inventory, including the nutrition label for those clients who need to check sodium, sugar, etc.

  • Update the list as frequently as your inventory changes.

  • For pantries that are still interested in a drive-through distribution:

    • If possible, put the current food inventory list online for viewing or opt to use an online ordering system. Then your pantry could:
      • Implement a call ahead or email ordering system. Clients could access the online food list and schedule a pickup time with their order.

      • If clients use an online ordering system, they can also schedule their pick-ups.

    • If the last bullet is not possible:

      • Consider what easy food items could be offered as client choice in a drive-through method.

      • Print the food list prior to a drive-through distribution.

      • Give it to clients as they pull up, allow them to review it and make their selections.

      • The client can put in the request, and the volunteer can pack it up right then.

      • It may not be feasible to allow choice for all items. Selecting a few food items to be client choice can still give the client the dignity to choose the foods they need and can eat.

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