The Client Choice Food Pantry is an innovative approach to providing food to our hungry neighbors. Client Choice is just what it sounds like. Clients are able to go through the pantry and select their own food instead of receiving a pre-packed or standard box of groceries. They are not given items they already have, do not like, or cannot eat for health or personal reasons. They choose for themselves what products they receive. The idea is to serve our hungry neighbors in a way that gives them a sense of dignity and control, limits waste (since they tend not to take food they won’t use), and allows them to tailor the help they receive to be the best possible fit for their own unique situation.
The Client Choice Pantry serves as a stop-gap measure to help families and individuals access food when they are unable to get food from traditional programs and agencies in the community. Since the program began in the summer of 2015, Rising Up has provided food to over 200 people throughout the county. There was a drop in demand over the winter holiday season, but there has been a steady increase in demand since that time; with a dramatic increase when school let out for summer break. In addition to the Food Pantry, Rising Up has been able to provide 895 hot meals to clients through the Warming Center.
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is a USDA program designed to improve the health of low-income people at least 60 years of age, by supplementing their diets with nutritious foods. Eligible seniors receive a monthly food box consisting of non-perishable protein, milk (powdered or UHT), juice, cereal, canned or dried fruits and vegetables, refrigerated cheese nutrition education and recipes are also included in the food boxes. Rising Up serves as a host site and to assist in outreach, certification and distribution of CSFP food boxes monthly to ensure no senior goes hungry.
Seniors and Choice
If you ask the average person on the street, “who do you think uses food pantries?” the reply will most likely be “Welfare Moms who are not married with lots of children”. On the contrary, seniors are now the most likely group to use pantries. Most pantries report over 30% of the users to be seniors (mainly older women who have become widowed) and this follows the most recent population counts that show seniors will soon be the largest demographic group in the nation.
Other seniors using pantries are those assuming the financial responsibility for their grandchildren. States one grandmother from Indianapolis, “I make $7.00 an hour, and with all my bills and my car payments and food and clothes and babysitter for my 2 young grandkids, and because I can’t get food stamps, I go to the food pantry.”