First and foremost, Our Community Food Pantry would like to thank all of those who have helped to make this a great 2012. By no means is this year done as the CFP’s Stomp Out Hunger campaign begins this September. But we have received great support thus far and look forward to it continuing.
Our Community Food Pantry has been constantly adjusting its systems in the past year so that it can better serve its clients. This has been a team effort between its manager, volunteers, clients, and board of directors. By consulting Rebecca Hart of the Westfield Food Pantry, seeing how the Northampton Survival Center and Springfield Open Pantry are run we have been able to gain a better understanding of the best practices for food pantries. In particular, Rebecca’s expertise has enabled us to establish a better standard of assistance and make educated decisions on moving forward. Previously clients came in once a week to collect their food supplies, now clients come in one time a month to collect their supplies. Each time clients come in our manager meets with them to establish income and residency guidelines and to get a pulse of their needs. Through this a better relationship with the people we serve has been developed.
Instituting income and residency guidelines has resulted in the CFP serving those who truly are in need. This has us seeing fewer families, but we’re now more efficient and able to provide 40% more food to those that we serve. Not only are we providing more food, but we’re also providing a more complete meal incorporating meat and dairy into each client’s monthly supplies.
Establishing a better relationship with our clients allows us to learn more about them. We’re finding that the majority of them don’t come regularly. They are the working poor. They may have work that results in them being laid off every summer or winter, or just come around the holidays when money is tight. The families we serve are not given all the food that they would consume in a month, but rather our responsibility is to assist them fill in things that they still need.
We could stop now, but there is still work to be done.
Remember your neighbors in need when you see our donation bins.
Dr. Justin Welch
Board Member, Our Community Food Pantry