What is Client Choice?
Client Choice is a style of pantry that gives the client control over what foods they will take home to their families. Whether you have a pantry the size of a closet or a large room, you can offer Client Choice. This style of pantry offers an opportunity to interact more with the client and talk to them about their food and health needs; it also cuts down on food waste. It’s simple, clients are more likely to eat the foods that they choose for themselves.
We understand that change can be challenging for pantry workers – many have been resistant, but once implemented, they’ve seen the savings in time, food and energy – they love it! Also, as a volunteer you can interact more personally with the clients you serve. The work is just different, not more difficult.
Check out both of these videos. One is from a MANNA partner, Food for Fairview, another is from a Feeding America partner in Ohio. Across the country Client Choice is becoming the choice for food pantries, see why!
Benefits of Using a Client Choice System of Distribution in your Food Pantry
For your pantry:
- Less food waste, as clients do not throw away foods they don’t like or can’t use
- Your pantry can monitor what foods are popular and which are not, and base future purchases on that knowledge. Therefore, money is saved as rarely selected items are not purchased as frequently
- More flexibility in what foods to purchase; no need to have enough of every item for every household
- Less staff time spent preparing food boxes can mean more time available for staying open later in the evenings or on weekends, which may be the only time the working poor can shop
- On-hand grocery inventory will reduce in size, allowing for a smaller, more organized pantry
For your clients:
- Provides a sense of dignity which can positively impact their confidence level
- Provides the opportunity to acquire and exercise skills in budgeting
- Ensures that clients get the types of food their families need, enjoy and will use
- Ensures that clients who have special food needs (e.g. diabetics) are getting the foods they need and not getting foods they can’t eat
- Prevents the distribution of highly perishable foods to households unequipped with functional stoves or refrigerators
- Provides more interaction with staff and volunteers, enhancing the shopping experience and client morale
For your volunteers:
- The volunteer work is more personally rewarding and enjoyable
- They are interacting with people instead of boxes of food
- The work is less physically demanding