As an Agency Relations Coordinator, I get to visit with the people who run the pantries and soup kitchens throughout our counties. Though they all share the same mission, each one is completely unique. I’m often impressed with the new ideas and inventive ways of solving problems that I see.
This particular morning, I went out to Vallejo Seventh Day Adventist. The pantry is run by Lynda and Larry Leach. Each aspect of the client’s situation is considered and each need is anticipated. In the back room are shelves of various clothing, toiletries, infant products, and shoes. Each item is separated into subcategories according to gender and then size. One room is exclusively used for items a homeless individual might need: sleeping bags, blankets, and toiletry kits. Even disaster kits are stacked high in crates just in case.
As for the food giveaway, the expert flow could only have been achieved by years of experience. A bench and awning shelter the clients while they wait, a television greets children with something to their liking, and the food is set out like a store for clients to choose what they want. This type of agency is aptly called a “choice pantry”. The great part about this type of system is that the clients only take what they will actually eat, minimizing waste.