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Brewerton Food Pantry offers clients choice of meals

The Brewerton Food Pantry, a joint effort of four area churches, offers clients the ability to choose their own foods within certain nutritional guidelines.

The Brewerton Food Pantry, a joint effort of four area churches, offers clients the ability to choose their own foods within certain nutritional guidelines. Photo by Sarah Hall.

— The move has provided the Brewerton community with a much more effective pantry, as well as the ability to offer programs like client choice, where patrons, who can visit the pantry once a month, have the ability to select their own food items within certain nutritional guidelines.

“The client choice was always something that we looked to,” Lombard said. “The Food Bank looks favorably on client choice, so when it comes time to allocate grant money, it’s a best practice. You get extra points for that. We couldn’t do it before because [we were too small].”

The pantry started offering client choice earlier in 2013. The Food Bank of Central New York provides nutrition guidelines, based on the national MyPlate standard, that assign a certain number of points to each food. Pantry clients get a certain number of points based on the number of people in their families; the points are broken up into the food groups (dairy, meat/non-meat protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and miscellaneous food items). Families select the foods they want in each category up to their point totals.

“All in all, the clients have been very receptive to our new clients’ choice pantry,” Lombard said. “We’re getting some good feedback from the clients, and the Food Bank loves it because it’s something they really push. But a lot of pantries don’t have this kind of space. We were so lucky.”

Sacred Heart in Cicero has a similar program through Anna’s Pantry.

In order to encourage clients to try new things, the volunteers provide recipes made with pantry ingredients.

“Some of the foods, they don’t usually have in their diet. So we try to put out recipes, and Deb will make a recipe,” Lalley said. This past week, it was black-eyed peas. No one was taking the black-eyed peas. So she made a salsa and put out the recipe. We have all of the items in the pantry so that they could put together the salsa.”

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