Client choice a welcome change for the Community Food Share

Shown are the contents of a cart typical for a family of three with a child in school. This is meant to be a five day supply of food to enhance what’s in the cupboard. (The Leader/Comfort photo)

MORRISBURG – This year, Community Food Share, formerly known as the Dundas County Food Bank, made a significant change to the way it does business.
It switched how food is disbursed to its clients.

Since its inception, the local food bank has provided food to its clients by way of food hampers, assembled by volunteers.

This year, they made the switch to the client choice model.

As the name infers, through the client choice model, clients get to choose what food items they receive.

A volunteer guides them through the process by pointing out the number of food items the client can choose from each shelf. The amount depends on the size of family they are feeding.

“This is awesome,” said one client waiting for the first time to try this model earlier this month.

“Most clients thought it was a good idea, and they are adapting quickly to the new process,” said Amy Jamieson, food and client coordinator at the Morrisburg location.

“The key component is to give the clients a choice, just like the rest of us,” said Ian McKelvie, administrator for the Community Food Share.

He said that within the next few months they plan to roll out this client choice model at the Winchester location of Community Food Share, as well.

“The clients all say they prefer it,” said Carol Armstrong, volunteer coordinator for the Morrisburg location.

She says that it has changed the role of the volunteer, and that some were unsure about it at first. However, some really like the more personal one-on-one experience it provides.
Jamieson said that it has also given her a better idea of what people prefer, which is important information for her to have when it becomes necessary to make purchases.

A young child accompanying a client had the opportunity to choose her own school snacks. Jamieson pointed out that like this young child, many children are drawn to certain snacks that she didn’t know they liked.

“Now, I buy those all the time,” she said.

With this change, the food bank has moved away from portioning out certain foods, like pancake mix, allowing clients to choose a whole box of pancake mix if that is something they will use. The same is being done with condiments.

“This is a lot  better,” said Jamieson.

“There is a lot less waste because people get what they want and what they will actually use,” said McKelvie.

Community Food Share reports that food bank usage was up about five per cent in 2016 over 2015.

Of the 2,121 visits to the food bank last year, 1,179 were to the Morrisburg location.

This client choice model is the most commonly used model for food bank food distribution.