ARE YOU OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER HOW WE ACTED IN HIGH SCHOOL? Everyone in class knew the which students were acting right, following the rules, and those who were not. There was no privacy, really, and no secrets.
WELL, GUESS WHAT. The same mentality exists in food pantries. Everyone knows which pantries play by the rules and which ones don’t. There are no secrets.
FOR ONE THING, THE SHOPPERS CAN TELL BY WHAT KIND OF FOOD THEY’RE GETTING. Is the food on pantry day composed of bent cans, stale bread trimmed in green, and frozen food which has obviously been refrozen more than twice? If the answer to that question is “yes”, then it’s pretty obvious someone besides the shoppers is getting the fabulous produce, the wonderfully fresh Bread Alone Bread, and the quick frozen meats and veggies. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the volunteers are taking it all for themselves and their neighbors.
PANTRIES COME EQUIPPED WITH GUIDELINES, AND RULES SIGNED OFF BY EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS AND COORDINATORS. The rules are clear.
PANTRIES COME EQUIPPED WITH COORDINATORS WHO ARE TAUGHT THE RULES . These coordinators are trained by, supervised by, and evaluated by the Food Bank. Boards,
Church Committees, and volunteers are often surprised to learn that Food Bank supervisors do expect certain levels of performance from coordinators.
Until now, the Food Bank was quiet about what was happening. Well, that attitude has changed.
IF YOU WORK IN A PANTRY THAT FORGOT THE RULES, or if you know about about a pantry with volunteers who forgot the rules, be prepared to expect a surprise or two in the coming months.
THE FOOD BANK HAS RULES. The rules have teeth. The Food Bank is no longer interested in keeping secrets. After all, our court system is pretty open. Misdemeanors and felonies are part of the public record.
Over the past few months, the Food Bank has terminated a few agency memberships. Why?
sold Food Bank products for their own profit.
kept food for themselves or gave it to family and friends or other volunteers.
used products for unapproved activities.
forgot there are health standards and that pantries and pantry storerooms should be kept clean.
THANK YOU FOOD BANK. Those of us working in honest pantries have hoped this would happen. Personally, I feel that there are very few pantries operated by people who make up their rules as they go along and have no respect for the Food Bank. These people are, however, ruining the whole scene for all of us.
If you shop at or volunteer at a pantry where the rules are not followed, please call 1-518-786-3691 and report the issue.
On behalf of honest pantry volunteers and hungry shoppers everywhere, thank you for reading this blog/book.
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Peace and food for all.