Audrey Ricks, Building Health Inc. Program Manager, puts pantry items together for a client on Monday, March 11 at Wesley House.

Food pantry to convert to client choice  

Consumers receiving groceries from Wesley House are experiencing more empowerment as the food pantry shifts to a new model allowing people to choose for themselves what items they receive. This change reduces waste because shoppers take only food they know they will consume — and provides the shoppers with more dignity and control.   

The Wesley House food pantry serves 1 in 5 households, 20 percent of households in Crawford County. In 2023, 8,162 households visited the pantry and 3,795 of those households were families with children.  

The food pantry receives 90 percent of its food from the Kansas Food Bank. To receive items from the food pantry, recipients are asked to provide proof of a Crawford County address and proof of income. The pantry is accessible to clients once a month.     

Currently, people seeking food at Wesley House are provided a paper “menu” of modified food options. If they choose corn, they may receive either whole kernel corn, cream style corn or maybe a can of low sodium corn. Another good example is with canned fruits; some cans of fruit are stored in syrup while others come in water. These may not be suitable for their nutritional needs and restrictive diets.  

With the full choice pantry setup, clients can select the food product that fits their dietary needs. The change comes thanks to Live Well Crawford County, who recently coordinated with Wesley House to earn a $25,000 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas “Pathways to a Healthy Kansas” grant. Wesley House will use this funding to convert its food pantry into a full choice pantry.    

“Our job is to coordinate with local partners on the ‘Pathways to a Healthy Kansas’ grant initiatives,” said Brad Stroud, executive director of Live Well Crawford County. “One of those initiatives was working with a local food pantry in offering healthier foods to their clients. Wesley House passed a policy to do just that, and in reward for those efforts they earned a $25,000 Pathways grant. This grant will allow Wesley House to convert to a client choice pantry, which will allow clients to seek food assistance that better suits their family or medical needs by allowing them to make choices in the foods they receive.” 

The Blue Cross/Blue Shield funding will be used for a new refrigeration system, produce display, and shelving to increase the visibility of food options. A produce display will enable guests to better view available fruit and vegetable choices. 

Each shopper is paired with a volunteer to encourage healthy food choices. During casual conversation, the volunteer may also find other ways to assist them, said Gail Deatherage, FUMC board member and retired pharmacist, adding “it will also give a greater sense of ownership and dignity if they could pick out their own apples, and their own broccoli.”  

The primary program at Wesley House is its food pantry, an outreach mission of the First United Methodist Church with integrated health service delivery through CHC/SEK. This includes health education, nursing triage, behavioral health, addiction treatment, primary care, dental and more. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email