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How to Start a Food Pantry: Six Simple Steps
1. Assess the need
- Remember that even if your town or neighborhood already has a food
pantry, this does NOT mean the your community's food assistance needs are
being met. Most food pantries only distribute twice a month, so perhaps
consider doing your distribution the opposite two weeks.
- Once you assess the need, you may want to look into creating eligibility
standards (I.E. what kind of income levels the person/family makes in
order to partake in your services)
2. Secure a site
- Try to make sure you have a consistent and stable place to distribute
from. This will not only be easier on you, but creates a stability for the
clients as well.
- For example, If working in conjunction with a church or temple perhaps
they could allow you to use a part of their basement for the food
distribution. However, do not forget that no matter where the site is, it
is important to make sure all excess food is protected from rodents and
the like, perhaps by metal cabinets.
- Make sure to comply with all applicable state and local fire safety,
food storage/handling requirements and health codes. You will want to call
your local Dept. of Health for this.
3. Call your local food bank
- Try to secure an alliance with your local food bank. Food banks are
similar to a "supermarket" for food pantries. They usually
receive fairly large donations and then break those down for each food
pantry, as well as sometimes assist in funding.
- America's Second Harvest is a national association with food banks all
over the country, to find out where the closest one to you is call (1-800)
771-2303, or visit their website at www.americassecondharvest.org
4. Look to the community for help
- Word of mouth, as well as fliers or other creative ideas can help
generate awareness of the new food pantry, as well as encourage donations
- Keep in mind, the variety of opportunities for everyone in the community
to take part in with the creation of a food pantry. Be sure to vocalize
them so everyone knows there is a role for them. (I.E. working at the
site, financial book keeping, writing letters to funders and food sources
5. Talk to your local Supermarkets/ Restaurants/Hotels
- Just because they have to throw their food away, does not mean it is
unfit for consumption. Try talking to the manager about saving all that
wasted food and giving it to your food pantry or soup kitchen.
- Keep in mind with food of this nature, that is "gleaned" or
"saved", it would probably be best to work out an agreement so
that the food is used that day. (I.E. agree that every 2nd and 4th Tuesday
you will make a pickup since you distribute every 2nd and 4th Tuesday.)
- N.B. The Emerson Good Samaritan Act protects individuals as well as
organizations that donate food in good faith against law suits being filed
due to illness etc.
*** Keep in mind that just because people are being generous and donating, you
should not hesitate to discard an item that may not look safe. Be sure to try
and check expiration dates, as some people donate in good faith, but may
forget how old some of their food is.
6. Try to Secure Funding
One can not always depend on donations, and some food banks charge a fee
to obtain food from their sites. Try to visit the local businesses in the
area and see if they would be interested in "funding" the food
pantry. (I.E. monthly monetary donations.) Explain to the business owner how
this would not only benefit the community, but would also create positive
attention to their business as well.
Some other ideas for funding include:
Mazon Foundation (funding specifically
for food pantries)
Foundation Center's website
Depending on if you are a church, you get in touch with the National
Association of your particular church (Lutheran, Baptist, etc)
- Try to get donations from any local clubs such as Kwanis Club, Rotary
- Have the private high schools in your area do a food/can drive to donate
to your efforts
- See what kind of commodities you can obtain from the government www.usda.gov
Matthew 25:34-46 " Then shall the
King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me
drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I
was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him,
saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and
gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or
naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and
came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I
say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these
my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the
left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared
for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no
meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger,
and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in
prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him,
saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or
naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying,
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of
these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting
punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."
We are responsible…..
When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, We
want our hand always to be there. For that we are responsible.
responsible both to God and
can make a change, we can make a difference!"
gave us His Son, Spirit, Love, Direction, Purpose, Gifts, and free will.
He gave us all the basic tools to either care for Him and others or
care just for ourselves.
is a choice either way, to either learn to work together to solve
problems, but at the end, when it is all said and done, our true hearts
will be exposed. We are given two things to do, love God and love our
neighbor as ourselves.