5 Things People Are Saying About Client Choice

Just a few weeks ago, Urban Ministries’ Hunger and Nutrition program switched from being a pantry that pre-bags food for hungry families to a pantry that allows clients to choose their own groceries.

Here’s what people are saying:

1. Reduces Waste

Allowing families choose their own groceries shows up to a 50% reduction in the amount of food wasted. The client-choice model empowers clients to make their own selections, optimizing resources due to personal preferences, ethnic/cultural backgrounds, and medical restrictions.


2. Creates More Client Involvement

To test whether clients would prefer to pick out their own foods as opposed to receiving pre-bagged food, Urban Ministries set up a “swap table” outside of the food pantry. Clients were given the option to switch out a few items for other options.

Overwhelmingly, clients demonstrated their desire to have greater input in their families’ food selections. Less was wasted, more was eaten, and clients were more involved.


3. Empowering

Currently, Urban Ministries’ client-choice pantry is in the pilot stages, allowing clients to choose their preferred vegetables, breads, soups, and other staple items. Once the conversion is complete, the pantry will be the largest client-choice model in Wake County.


4. Gives Dignity Back To The People We Serve

“You just see their shoulders rise when they come in. You can see the dignity flowing back into people”

—Anna, Food Pantry Volunteer


5. There’s Demand

Urban Ministries will gradually expand its client-choice model to all pantry aisles, but needs help meeting the demand. Fresh and frozen produce, along with meats were among the top requests by clients, followed by canned green beans, canned mixed vegetables, juices, and snack items.

In addition to food donations, Urban Ministries of Wake County seeks volunteers able to assist clients in navigating the pantry, packaging food, and stocking the shelves. Pantry volunteer shifts are Monday-Friday 9am-1pm. Interested volunteers should contact the Manager of Volunteer Services, Beverly Benitez, at bbenitez@urbanmin.org


Want to Help?


  • Fresh and frozen produce
  • Fresh and frozen meats
  • Canned green beans
  • Canned mixed vegetables
  • Juice
  • Healthy Snacks

Help clients navigate the pantry, package food, and stock the shelves for food insecure families!

M-F 9am-1pm
Contact our Manager of Volunteer Services to help (volunteer@urbanmin.org)