Montour County food bank takes a more personal approach

Mar. 13—DANVILLE — In an effort to cut down on food waste and build stronger relationships with clients, the Montour County food bank will now offer a "choice pantry."

County Casework Manager Jillian Brandon said the food bank shift is something she has wanted to do for a while.

"We used to put prepackaged food into bags and hand them out to our clients on distribution days," Brandon said. "Now, clients can come in and shop like in a grocery store, but it's free."

Montour County Commissioner Rebecca Dressler said the county was proud of the food bank's change.

"We are proud to announce our food pantry's shift to a choice pantry model, allowing people seeking assistance to choose food for themselves that best suits their needs and preferences," Dressler said.

The change will be especially beneficial in two ways, according to Brandon.

"It will cut down on food waste and staff can better connect with clients when they come in to shop for food," she said.

Because county residents can choose what items they receive, less unwanted or unneeded food will be wasted.

"Clients will walk through the space to shop, they will not take items they already have, do not like, or cannot eat for health or personal reasons," Dressler said. "What is good for one person may not be good for another."

The food bank experience will also be more personalized compared to clients being handed a bag of food that was chosen for them every month, Brandon said.

"This puts the choice back in their hands," she said.

Montour County Commissioner Trevor Finn said he is proud of the work being done to make the food pantry more welcoming for residents.

"I'm proud of our county staff, volunteers and staff from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank who were able to envision and execute a plan to greatly benefit our community," Finn said.

Shelves in the county food bank are being stocked with goods for clients to come in and choose from.

"The food storeroom and the place where clients choose their food is now the same location, therefore our staff and volunteers will not need to continuously move the food on days when clients come in," Dressler said. "The choice pantry model works for everyone."