For nearly thirty years, the FPCY Deacons have been providing food to the needy through a “Partial Choice” model. This is a model in which the client receives pre-packaged bags of a nutritionally balanced mix of non-perishable foods AND is further able to make limited choices from selections of meat, bread, produce, and sundry items when available. This model is about to change dramatically.
In April, our church will be migrating to a “Full Choice” model, where the clients can choose food for their family just as they would in a grocery store. The “Full Choice” model empowers clients to make choices of food items that they prefer as opposed to being given a predetermined bag of packaged food. Clients will also be able to choose food knowing what is already in their pantry at home. This serves to match recipe requirements and meal planning requirements with the food preferences of each family.
The new “Full Choice” model does require an entirely different set-up! Many of our volunteers will have to be re-trained to assist in a different manner. This “Full Choice” model will increase interaction between client and volunteers. In our current model some volunteers who were always busy packing up the bags reported “feeling invisible” in the pantry process as it relates to client interaction. With our new model, the volunteers will be directly interacting with our Pantry Clients thereby enhancing communication and building a friendly and helpful dialogue between them. Client feedback across many studies has shown that clients feel better about being able to make choices rather than receiving pre-packed bags. More importantly, allowing for client choice adds a level of “dignity” to the experience.
The “Full Choice” model will also provide better feedback to the Deacons on the popularity of different food products. This will greatly help with inventory control and food ordering. It will also help to cut down on wasted food – that is, food that was previously included in a pre-packed bag that families either do not enjoy or food that they may not be able to eat for dietary or health reasons.
We are excited about implementing this new model and hope that in a few short weeks we will be able to iron out the wrinkles and get it up and running as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. We invite anyone who is interested to come and join us. We can always use help. We could especially use additional help on the Fridays BEFORE the Pantry day to unload the incoming food from the Food Bank truck and organize it on the shelves for the following morning. Please check with, Bud or Gloria Coccodrilli, Katharine Frase, Bill Winsted or any one of your Deacons to see how you can help.
As always, your Deacons are grateful for the continued support of our Congregation in this important outreach. Remember our Lord’s teaching, “For as surely as you did this for one of the least of these, you have done it unto me”…. (Matthew 25)
~Bud Coccodrilli, Katharine Frase, and Carol Thorne-Gaetani