Guidelines for shopping with our clients
1. Clothing and shoes
- Please be mindful to wear comfortable but appropriate clothing. Consider wearing layers given varying temperatures from the vestibule to the pantry area, and you may need to help clients take their bags to the sidewalk.
- Please wear comfortable shoes, as you will be on your feet a good portion of the time. For your safety, be sure to wear closed-toe shoes, even in the summertime!
2. Sensitivity and discretion
- People come to our pantry because they are in need of an emergency source of food. Our goal is to treat everyone with respect and kindness.
- We must choose our words carefully when we interact. Please use words that reinforce the idea that clients get to choose each item, as they do when they shop elsewhere. For example, rather than say, “You’re allowed to have four items from this shelf,” you might say, “You may choose up to four items from this shelf.” It makes a small but meaningful difference.
- Introduce yourself when you begin to help a client shop.
- Be sure to turn off your cell phone. Please do not use or check your phone while you are assisting shoppers.
- Our shoppers depend on us to be discreet and to respect their privacy. If you see someone you know or a name you recognize, please do not discuss their visits with others outside of the Pantry.
- We aim to be friendly, but use discretion about giving out personal information.
3. Patience and flexibility
- Be patient with our shoppers and give them time to choose from each category before explaining about the next. Give them space and let them move from shelf to shelf at their own pace.
- Focus on the needs of the shoppers as you move along with them. Since some may have difficulty hearing or may speak English as a second language, keeping extra noise down will help.
- We generally do not make substitutions, but if you have questions, please check with the Pantry staff.
4. Carrying bags outside
- We generally carry bags outside for people, but only as far as the sidewalk. Do not carry bags or boxes to vehicles.
- Volunteers under 16 years of age may carry grocery bags to our vestibule only and may not carry them outside of the building.
5. Please plan to stay for the entire sign-up period. If the Pantry is not busy, you may be asked to:
- Check expiration dates on newly donated items and on items already on shelves
- Mark through the bar code on items in storage
- Re-stock the shelves with items from storage
- Organize or clean an area
- Prepare double bags for shoppers to use
- Take inventory of our supplies
- Prepare Kids’ Club bags
6. Cancelling a volunteer spot: If you find you cannot fulfill a volunteer commitment for which you have signed up, please be sure to cancel it in our sign-up system as soon as possible! Other volunteers may be able to fill that spot but cannot if it appears to be taken.
7. You might be asked:
- Why are there limits to what shoppers can take? This combination of items should equal at least three days worth of food. Serving this amount allows us to reach all of those in need by decreasing the risk of running out of needed items. If we can let people choose additional items, we will always do so!
- Why can people come just once per month? The Pantry is intended as an emergency source of food. By having clients join us once each month, we can anticipate the number of families visiting each week and always have food available for each family.
- What if a shopper wants substitutions? If you aren’t sure of an answer or any special request makes you uncomfortable, please ask a Pantry staff member.