Every step of establishing and designing a pantry for your campus is important. Once you've secured a location, there are several details you must work through that determine how your pantry will operate. These may change over time as your pantry grows, and that's okay, but it is important to have initial plans in place before serving your clients.
Establishing a committee to make key decisions for your campus is crucial. Whether it's a formal or informal team, make sure to include students, faculty and administration. This will give you a variety of ideas from different points-of-view.
Hours of Operation
Deciding days and times for your pantry to be open will depend on the number of clients you serve and who you open your pantry to. The TTU Food Pantry initially opened for students two hours (11am - 1pm) every Thursday. We are now open Monday - Thursday from 8am until 5pm to accommodate the schedules of our students, faculty and staff.
Will you distribute non-perishable food, perishable food or both? We suggest starting with non-perishable food just until you have a better idea of the items your clients want. Then, if your space allows, add a deep freezer and refrigerator to accommodate fresh food.
We offer cardboard and plastic recycling to our clients. As an incentive to be greener and utilize our recycling services, we are offering monthly prizes to clients who participate. For each bag of accepted recyclable materials brought in, we enter their name in a drawing for the prize of the month. Example prizes include gift cards to local grocery stores, extra bags of food, etc.
Some campuses may establish an operational budget for a campus based pantry if the need is great enough. Check with your campus administration to see if this is a possibility.
There are two primary ways of distributing food to clients: prepared boxes or bags AND "grocery shopping". Which style you choose will be determined greatly by the size of your pantry and its hours of operation. If your pantry is small, we suggest having volunteers prepare bags for clients before they come to receive food. If your pantry is large and you are open longer hours, we recommend allowing clients the time to "grocery shop" for the food they need and want.
You may choose to give out non-food items at your pantry as well. The TTU Food Pantry tries to keep a large supply of toiletry and basic household items in stock for clients. How you choose to distribute these items is up to you. We simply organize them into boxes and set them out for people to take as needed.
Who to Serve
The TTU Food Pantry began by serving students. After one semester we opened our pantry to faculty and staff, including staff working at TTU through third party entities. If your pantry is large enough, you might even consider serving the local community.
The TTU Food Pantry has an online application for clients to fill out each week they wish to receive food. Having clients fill out an application allows you to keep better track of numbers to continue to show the need for your pantry. We recommend having both an online and paper application to accommodate everyone.
Because the TTU Food Pantry runs solely on volunteers, we prepare a schedule each semester so they can sign up for shifts with semester long requirements. We are open Monday through Thursday from 8am until 5pm with shifts being broken up in hour increments. Volunteers are able to sign up for as many shifts as they want. We do try to have at least two volunteers per shift in the event one must miss their scheduled time.