If your church is large enough or in an area where there are sufficient amount of people needing assistance with food, you may want to consider a food pantry. The size would depend on the need and the availability of other assistance. If you are just looking to help those in your own church and their network, you may only need a moderate size pantry. If you are going to open it up to the public, depending on the number of other pantries in the area, you may need a larger pantry. What should you stock? When planning a food pantry it is good to know what to buy or ask donors for. If allowed, people will donate many kinds of odd foods. It helps if you can create a list based around six basic groups. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, toiletries, paper supplies and necessary clothing. Also you need to determine how often you will be using the pantry. If occasional use by those that drop by or are in need in congregation then set up an area for mainly can goods and boxed goods that will keep. If there are weekly pick-ups you may want to add things that you can refrigerate. If there is daily traffic you may want to include an area with fresh donated food.
Here are some of the basics:
Breakfast – STORED: This is crucial, especially for children and seniors. Cereals, breakfast bars, dried milk, fruit juices, coffee and tea. REFRIGERATION: Eggs, milk, cheeses, some meats. DAILY: Pastries and baked goods.
Lunch – STORED: Peanut butter & jelly, tuna fish, canned meats, meals in a can, i.e., Spaghetti-O’s, stews, hash, ravioli, soups, condiments for sandwiches, crackers and cookies. REFRIGERATION: Cold cuts, lunch meats, cheese, eggs, milk and some meats. DAILY: Prepared food for reheating and sandwiches.
Dinner – STORED: Canned fruits & vegetables, beans, pasta, rice, sauces, canned tomatoes and tomato sauce. Canned meats, soups and meals. Jello and pudding. Box and jar baby food. REFRIGERATION: Cold cuts, cheese, milk and some meats. Casseroles and precooked meals. DAILY: Prepared food for reheating.
Toiletries – Soap, shampoo, conditioners, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and foot powder.
Paper supplies – Toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, diapers, and handi-wipes.
Necessary clothing – Underwear, socks, tee-shirts, clothes, warm coats and hats.
If you, or someone in your church is seriously interested in having a ministry like this, I would encourage you to make a few calls and find out what other churches or agencies are doing. Ask them for help and find out what the true need in your area.
For more information on how your church can get involved in reaching the community e-mail Ron Ovitt at email@example.com and we will send you a copy of Close To The Heart of God. Also go to www.empowerministry.org for helpful materials.
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