Helping Hands operates with client-choice philosophy
Each month when clients visit the Helping Hands Community Food Pantry, they are given the valuable opportunity to make choices about the food they take home.
Founded in 2009, Helping Hands is a client-choice pantry located in Barry County, where 14.5 percent of the population is food insecure. Its philosophy is to offer clients choices when it comes to food.
Ed and Charlie Trease run the pantry in Eagle Rock. Ed serves as the treasurer and Charlie is the director.
Together, alongside a coalition of churches, the Eagle Rock Community Association and local fire departments, they work to ensure every household goes home with food they will eat.
“We feel if we were to give a client a box of food that contains something they do not like, such as spinach, they won’t eat it,” Ed Trease said.
The client-choice model has been in place for six years, even with the tight quarters at Helping Hands.
The pantry operates out of a small one-room schoolhouse built in the early 1900s. It contains four aisles of food and household items with three freezer and cooler units.
“It is time consuming,” Trease shared about the client-choice philosophy. “It takes longer to provide clients with the food, but when they leave you feel good about what they have received.”
Clients walk down the aisles with a pantry operator and are given certain amounts of food based on their family size.
Rather than clients receiving a standard box of food, they choose specific items that are best for their household. For instance, if a family does not eat bacon, they are able to pick sausage instead.
This pantry model ensures that families and seniors will have nutritious meals they enjoy.