After deciding to open a food pantry in a non-profit agency, the first priority is finding a space that can be locked and kept secure.
Electric outlets to accommodate freezers are necessary.
Most clients are not vegetarians; they very much appreciate a protein rich meat product in their grocery bag.
Make sure you can recruit enthusiastic volunteers. Calvary has a seasoned 93 year old who serves faithfully every week. It’s good to have some younger arms to handle cases of food. Those who can’t lift are welcome to sit down and fill out forms, and offer encouraging words to the clients.
Once you have the blessing of your non profit, volunteers are lined up, and you have been to class to dispense USDA, you will need to start filling up your shelves. Some agencies choose not to give out USDA; if USDA foods are used, they need to be kept separate from the other food.
Choose a day that is convenient for your volunteers and set up a time to give out food. Since clients can only access USDA food once a month, a weekly dispensing day will probably be adequate.
You may need to ask a volunteer to act as security if the layout of your facility allows people to wander around. Sad to say, a few clients have issues with taking what is not theirs.
Ordering items from the Foodbank is very easy. Each day, the Foodbank posts a list of commodities via the internet. Orders can be called in or ordered via the internet. The food can be delivered to the agency or picked up at the Foodbank.
Let others know what you are doing; many will want to help. Calvary is fortunate to pick up a bounty of produce in season from the Master Gardeners of Portsmouth. Most clients are delighted to see fresh produce in their bags.