Open Door Pantry Annual Report 2017

Prepared by Karen Greening and Irma Ruebling

DESCRIPTION
The Open Door Pantry has evolved over two decades at UUMC offering various levels of assistance for those in need of emergency help for food.

In 2017 the Open Door Pantry volunteers determined essential needs beyond food for our neighbors. The operation of the Open Door Pantry is directed by the Goal and Guiding Principles based on the mission of UUMC and the identified theme for 2018 of “A Healthier St. Louis.”

GOAL
To support the UUMC mission through respectful and willing service with our community neighbors in achieving a healthy and safe living environment by providing food items and products not covered under social service programs.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES
To the extent possible clients are given a choice in selection of the products offered with certain restrictions allow for distribution of popular or expensive items, so that a greater share of clients may receive those items.

Volunteers encourage the empowerment of clients to make healthy decisions.

OPERATION PROCEDURES
Every Wednesday from 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Registration requires a current photo identification card. No Income guidelines are required. Each neighbor is provided a number upon arrival so that each can be served in the order of arrival. Items offered include bus passes, paper products, hygiene items as well as cans and packages of food. Warm socks, gloves, scarves and hats are available during winter months.

LEARNING ABOUT OUR NEIGHBORS
Visits to the Open Door Pantry increased in 2017.  The numbers below shows the growth in the total number of neighbor visits per month. 

January: 9
February: 10
March: 9
April: 10
May: 16
June: 20
July: 22
August: 29
September: 29
October: 30
November: 29
December: 33

Those neighbors who attended 9-12 times and 6-8 times came almost every month after their first visit.  

No. of people                No. of visits
6                                    9-12
8                                    6-8
16                                   3-5
41                                   1-2

We implemented a conversation guide to assist us in learning more about those coming to the Open Door Pantry. The purpose was to learn more about the circumstances of our neighbors in need, to understand how the pantry is helping them, and to identify other needs they may have.  A copy of the guide is included as Appendix 1.

ABOUT OUR VOLUNTEERS

Twelve regular volunteers provided over 500 hours of service this year to the Open Door Pantry. The volunteer names and a listing of their responsibilities are included in Appendix 2 and 3.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
In October we gave each individual who came to our Open Door Pantry an invitation to attend church service and our Harvest Home dinner on November 5th.  We followed up with phone calls to those who expressed interest in coming.  Eight of the pantry neighbors came to our worship service and twenty came to the dinner. These individuals stated they enjoyed the event and some offered reciprocal invitations to dinners and musical gatherings.

WHAT’S NEXT?
We want to explore ways to follow up with additional opportunities to get together with our neighbors:

  • Our application with Operation Food Search is pending.
  • CSFP is now coordinated through Trinity Presbyterian Church.    

FINANCES
Sources on funding and supplies include the following:

  • Food, paper products, hygiene items and cleaning supplies brought to the church by members of the congregation.
  • Cash donations from the congregation. The volunteers then purchase needed items with this money for the Open Door Pantry.
  • Soliciting free donations or reduced cost items through community and commercial organizations.
  • Various fundraising activities within the church.
  • Church budget allocation.

Total Donations    $5,854.00
Total Expenses      $5,747.00

In addition, the UUMC Preschool held a Food Drive in October of 2017 and a special Christmas offering was designated for the Open Door Pantry in December of 2017 in the amount of $1,067.00.

VISION FOR THE FUTURE  - COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

  • As a follow-up to the Harvest Home Dinner, invite pantry neighbors to monthly potlucks at UUMC.
  • Offer snacks and drinks once a month on Wednesdays during the Open Door Pantry.
  • As appropriate, share stories of our neighbors and their needs with the congregation.
  • Plan a UUMC Food Drive in May, 2018.
  • Apply for a MUMF Mission Grant with UUMC budget allocation included.

Appendix 1:

UNIVERSITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OPEN DOOR PANTRY

Learning About Our Neighbors
We are trying to learn more about those who come to our pantry to better understand the types of services most needed and ways in which we can meet particular needs.

  • Name:                          Age:                                               
  • Address:  
  • City                 State            Zip                
  • Living Situation:
  • Persons who are part of your household
  • Transportation:
  • Do you have access to a car?
  • Food
  • What are the most helpful items for you and your family?
  • What food do you like the most?
  • How did you learn about UUMC Open Door Pantry?  
  • Do you receive assistance from other Food Pantries?
  • How has your situation changed since receiving help from UUMC?

Appendix 2:  Volunteer Roster

CHURCH OPEN DOOR PROGRAM LIST OF VOLUNTEERS FOR FOOD PANTRY  (available from the church office but not published publicly.)  

Appendix 3:  Responsibilities of Volunteers

FOOD PANTRY VOLUNTEER INSTRUCTIONS
PREPARING TO OPEN

  • Arrive at 15 minutes before the opening of the Food Pantry and get the notebook entitled CHURCH OPEN DOOR PROGRAM in the office. It contains information on our “neighbors in need” and passes for the bus. Take the notebook with you to Fellowship Hall.
  • Move the piano. Set up a table near the Food Pantry and place the community resource folders on the table, along with the notebook.
  • Move the drop off and pick up bins with the red bags into the Library.
  • Place bags on table for people to use to use when they shop.

WELCOMING OUR NEIGHBORS

  • Greet our neighbors at the door and escort them to Fellowship Hall.
  • Give them a number and offer them something to drink.
  • Check their identification in the CHURCH OPEN DOOR notebook. Refer to the log and verify the neighbor’s last visit Check their address and phone number and update as needed.
  • If this is the first visit for the neighbor, copy a current photo ID and include it in alphabetical order in the CHURCH DOOR OPEN PROGRAM Notebook.
  • Please pay special attention to completing the form “Knowing Our Neighbors”. This will help in our ongoing evaluation of evidence-based outcomes for our Food Pantry.
  • Provide a resource folder for each family. Ask about their current needs and follow-up with referrals as appropriate.

DISTRIBUTING FOOD AND SUPPLIES

  • Once a month neighbors may receive two bags of a combination of food, paper products and hygiene supplies as well as two bus passes.
  • Ask our neighbors if there are any special foods or paper products they prefer. Add these to the shopping list for the following week.
  • Give the person a UUMC appointment card with their return date for the following month. Include two bus passes if they do not have access to a car.
  • Escort them to the door and make meaningful contact with them before they leave. Offer to carry bags if they need help.
  • Record your encounter in the CHURCH OPEN DOOR PROGRAM notebook.

WHILE YOU ARE WAITING

  • Place the items that have been donated that are located in the bin on the appropriate shelves.  
  • Check the labels for expiration dates on all foods and dispose of the ones that have expired
  • Assist with any work that needs completed in the office.
  • Replenish Food Pantry donation envelopes on the back of the pews in the sanctuary.
  • Assemble the resource packets, as needed.
  • Sort bulletins and other paper items in the recycle basket that is on the front pew in the Sanctuary.

PREPARING TO CLOSE

  • Prepare a list of needed food items, paper product and bus passes. Email this list to Cindy Zirwes and to Elizabeth in the office, so she can include it in Headlines and the Sunday bulletin.
  • Take down the table and move the piano back. Return the plastic bins to their original location. Place the resource folders on the shelf. Return the CHURCH OPEN DOOR notebook to the office.
  • Put the bus passes in the safe.