Food Pantries Use Different Models To Provide Food

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ST. LOUIS - Food pantries can vary in terms of what each one offers, depending on size and what foods are available.

However some pantries provide a different experience than others. In the case of Affton Christian Food Pantry, it allows its clients to choose their food while Feed My People and Tiger Pantry provide a bag full of various items. These different models allow the practice of "double-dipping" in which clients visit multiple pantries to get the products they want, not just the products they are given.

Jennifer Meehan, the executive director at Affton Christian Food Pantry, said that her pantry offers a different experience.

"They get to choose what specific items they want but there are limit set to the amount in each category based on the size of their family and financial need, so a family of four would come in and they might receive 12 cans of vegetables whereas a family of one will receive only three, but they can choose which vegetables they would receive," Meehan said.

Meehan added that the model gives more dignity to clients as they walk around the small pantry and pick their food. Other pantries, such as Tiger Pantry and Feed My People, simply give clients a bag of various food items.

Tiger Pantry has a small area where the food is stored, similar Affton Christian Food Pantry. Director Paul Haluszczack said that this leads to volunteers picking the food for clients as well as continuing to set limits for each family.

"The clients have a waiting area [and] they fill out a food request form," he said. "Right now, we run at 14 pounds of food per person so if the client has a family of four, 14 times four, you have 56 pounds is our goal which is a three and a half day food supply per person."

Ted West, the daily operations manager at Feed My People, uses a similar model as Tiger Pantry, but he recognizes that it has some issues.

"Here, we might give you green beans, a can of peas, and two cans of corn," he said. "You may not like corn, you may be allergic to corn, you may not be able to eat corn for some reason, but we'll give it you because we don't know what the client wants and the client's not picking their own stuff."

At the moment, Feed My People is keeping their current model, but West hopes to adopt a similar pantry procedure like the Affton Christian Food Pantry in the future.