In April, the First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown Food Pantry made the transition from “Partial Choice” (where a client received pre-packed bags of a nutritionally balanced mix of non-perishable foods, and then chose from selections of meat, bread and produce) to “Full Choice.” With Full Choice, a client can choose food items from shelves, as they would in a grocery store. The new model empowers clients to make choices of food items that they prefer, as well as choices that balance what is already in the cupboards at home. The Food Bank for Westchester has supported the food pantry in this change, including a grant for equipment (a refrigerator to offer eggs and fresh dairy items, and rolling racks and shopping carts for pantry operations) to improve the look and experience for clients.
When a client shops, the quantities they may choose are scaled to the size of their family, and correspond to the guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture and the Food Bank for Westchester. Due to the generosity of the Yorktown Acme and the local Islamic Center, the pantry was able to provide each client with a reusable shopping bag at the first “Choice” pantry.
The need for food pantry services at FPCY has grown from an average of 50 families a decade ago to 120 families per pantry today. Clients live in Yorktown, Mohegan Lake, Cortlandt Manor, Peekskill, Shrub Oak and other local communities. The FPCY pantry has seen a rise in families headed by elderly (often raising their grandchildren) and veterans. Most families include children.
The change to Full Choice has been enthusiastically received by the food pantry clients. “This is so much better”, “this is great, because I don’t need canned vegetables this week”, “my family will be happy with this change” are some of the comments heard. And the new model has benefits for the pantry staff as well -- with more opportunity to interact with clients, rather than focusing on the packing of bags – and beginning to learn what foods clients prefer, so that they can order more of those and less of the less popular items.
The Pantry operates from 9-11am on two Saturdays per month. If you would like more information, or would like to support the work of the pantry, please see the church website at www.fpcyorktown.org. The pantry is always in need of donations of pasta, canned fruits and vegetables, and shelf-stable milk.