Thursday, March 4, 2010

Choice Comes to Clinton County

Today's post comes from Jessica Braun, our Food Distribution Coordinator.

Today marked the first day of a Choice Pantry system at Sugartree Ministries on Main Street. (In a previous post here, we discussed the benefits of choice pantries.) The clients who came in expecting their usual standardized bag of groceries were extremely pleased to find shelves full of items for their choosing.

Serving over 100 clients in under an hour can be a challenge even in the simplest of pantry systems. The Sugartree volunteers, however, took the new choice pantry idea in stride assisting clients in how many and which items to choose.

"This is only the second time I've been here to get groceries," one client said. "But this is much better than last time, I'm going to bring back the things I won't use from last week's bag."

But she wasn't the only enthusiastic client today. Many were delighted with the idea of being able to choose their own groceries to better compliment what they already had in their pantries at home. "It makes you think. It's like going to the grocery store, you have to think about what you already have and what you can make when you put things together."

Choice Pantries are not unique to Sugartree Ministries. Many food pantries throughout the country have found great success in moving to a choice system. Hope Emergency Program in Lynchburg has found great success in choice pantry stating that it has saved them money because they no longer purchase items that clients do not want. Another local pantry, the New Vienna United Methodist Church also employs a choice system where clients check wanted items on a grocery list of things and orders are filled by volunteers. They find it works very well for the small space they employ but does not allow as much client interaction as could be hoped.

Director, Allen Willoughby, and the rest of the Sugartree Ministries Board have been enthusiastic about the project and are hoping to perfect the process in the coming weeks. They are also hoping that projects such as the Choice Pantry inspire surrounding communities and food pantries to see them as a model of how to make their own communities a better place.

Everyone loves Choice!

1 comment:

Kaitlyn Baker said...

Congratulations! I love the choice pantry model--what a great addition to Clinton County!