Consider adopting a policy like this one to improve the health of food pantry clients.

Guiding Principles

We believe that every patron should have access to healthy food options. We follow USDA MyPlate recommendations by distributing nutritious foods such as:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat/fat-free milk or yogurt
  • Lean proteins
  • Foods low in sodium

We will limit the distribution of:

  • Highly processed foods (like white bread, potato chips, frozen meals)
  • Foods high in trans fats and saturated fats (like french fries, desserts, lard)
  • Foods high in sodium (like deli meats, sausages)

We will not distribute:

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages (like soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks)
  • Candy

To encourage awareness of health education, we will:

  • Offer meal ideas and recipes using food pantry items
  • Provide tasting samples of nutritious foods
  • Offer nutritional information and recommendations

Food Acquisition

Donated Products

We will ensure that healthy foods are stocked by:

  • Encouraging healthy donations (that follow MyPlate recommendations)
  • Asking community partners for fresh produce donations
  • Refusing any donations that fall under the category of products that we will not distribute (like candy and sugar-sweetened beverages)

Non-donated Products

We will ensure that healthy foods are stocked by purchasing products that are:

  • Whole grain cereals, breads, rice, crackers, and pastas
  • Fresh, canned, and frozen fruits and vegetables (canned fruits packaged in 100% fruit juice)
  • Lean protein foods (like meats, fish, poultry, beans, and nuts)
  • Low-fat and fat free dairy products
  • Low-sodium or no-salt-added canned and processed products
  • Basic staple foods (like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean meats)
  • Culturally relevant to the preferences and needs of the patrons

Product Placement and Selection

We will inform patrons of our choice/selection practice to encourage healthy food choices by:

  • Giving patrons flexibility to allow for any special dietary needs and cultural food practices
  • Displaying foods that follow MyPlate recommendations
  • Highlighting MyPlate recommended foods to increase with a symbol indicating a smart choice
  • Incentivizing patrons to choose fruits and vegetables
  • Distributing all fresh fruits and vegetables as a “free choice”

Adapted from the Wisconsin Community Action Program and the University of Wisconsin-Extension “Safe & Healthy Food Pantries Project” (2013).