With the move to their new location this August, Niverville Helping Hands Food Bank Board Chair says, they are also revamping the way guests receive their hampers.
Larissa Sandulak says not only is the location different, bigger and better, but the way hamper items are picked up will also be new.
“So basically, we as a Board, are changing everything. Right now, we have a pantry where volunteers pack hampers, but in our new location, it’s going to be set up kind of like a grocery store where people will come in and they are actually going to shop for the needs of their own family.”
Sandulak says volunteers will hand out an inventory list of quantities and items the individuals can have for their family size.
“Then they can go around our store essentially and shop for their own supplies, for whatever preferences they have or whatever they need.”
Sandulak notes that in the past they’ve handed out the standard food hamper box every two weeks, but with the grocery store set-up, someone might not need help that week and won’t come shopping. She continues adding, with this revamped model, clients still call in or apply online, but now will choose a ‘Shopping Timeslot” that suits their schedule.
“These timeslots will be spread across our newly increased hours to eliminate the chaos of serving everyone within 1 hour. This also allows space for connecting with clients and gives dignity to our clients, allowing them to choose things for their family’s preferences, while also freeing up volunteer hours to be spent with clients instead of packing hampers.”
Sandulak clarifies, there will be limits on the number of items that a client can take home.
“There will be a list of items and quantities according to the size of each family, just as we had with the ‘traditional’ packing method. The beauty here is that clients will be able to choose the items they need. One of the reasons we are going with this new direction is because we were having clients sending in very specific requests for what we packed for them. And we get it-every family has different needs and preferences. So, rather than customizing every hamper, we decided to put the client in the driver’s seat and let them pack their own hampers. For example, some families don’t eat a lot of pasta, so whereas before they would have been given 2 packs of pasta, now they have to the choice to choose 1 pack, or none. Then, once clients have finished ‘shopping’, they will ‘check out’, at which time we will verify that they honoured our limits.”
Sandulak says, they have seen this method work in other communities and hopes they will find success with Niverville residents as well.
For now she says, until their move into the new facility is complete, volunteers will be on hand at the next Food Bank hamper pick-up day, on Thursday, July 27 from 5:30 to 6:30pm at the Word of Life Church.