How Food Pantries Can Generate Consistent Community Support

By Aimee Stone Munsell
Fight Hunger

Across America, thousands of small food pantries do the day-in-day-out job of tackling food
insecurity in their counties. If you are a staff member or volunteer for a pantry, operations
and fundraising likely take up the bulk of your time. Your volunteer staff is likely a dedicated
but lean troop of reliable folks who serve your clients with dignity.

Every month you achieve so much, and even so, every month there are gaps that need filling
— sometimes with little warning. The shipment doesn’t contain what you expected, there is
a rising cost you didn’t account for, or you wish you could better meet the dietary needs of
your clients due to cultural, medical or age requirements. Meeting these needs is the
specialty of PORCH Communities, an organization that mobilizes and supports local
volunteers to create sustainable hunger relief programs.

PORCH Chapters generate food for Pantries
With the PORCH Communities model, our local volunteer networks (known as PORCH
chapters) run monthly neighborhood food drives to benefit local pantries such as yours.
These monthly food collections are the foundation of our “neighbors helping neighbors”
model and a required program (known as PORCH for Pantries) for any PORCH chapter. PORCH food drives have a twist: on a designated day each month, neighbors place
non-perishables on their porches and PORCH volunteers drive around to collect up all the
goods and deliver them to their partner pantry.

PORCH Chapter Leaders take care of community communications and food drive

PORCH Communities onboards, trains and supports local PORCH Chapter Leaders to run
the PORCH for Pantries program. Your local PORCH Chapter Leader is responsible for
communicating monthly collection dates, and thanking participants following each drive.
They are responsible for managing all of the pickups, sorting donations when needed, and
working with their pantry partner to provide convenient consolidated delivery of all

PORCH collections are flexible and responsive to community needs
Whether you are short on overall quantity or specific products during a given month, PORCH
can help. Our leaders communicate with donors ahead of each monthly food drive to
request specific items or drum up extra support. Our donors love to know how they can
best help their neighbors. We’ve had college campus pantries request microwavable food ,
senior-frequented pantries ask for low-sodium and soft products, and family-heavy areas
seek healthy snacks. PORCH chapters have even done special sourcing to meet the dietary needs of recent immigrant populations. If there is an unexpected local shock to the economy, our chapters can help you quickly respond.

Healthy food is our favorite request
PORCH Communities’ maintains a published list of healthy recommendations for
non-perishable donations and your local chapter will be happy to collaborate on your
health-conscious initiatives, getting their donors and volunteers engaged as appropriate.
We’ve publicized partners’ healthy cooking programs, provided healthy recipes and run
events to help raise funds for healthy food purchases.

PORCH Leaders become valuable community engagement partners
PORCH is all about “neighbors helping neighbors.” Our mission is to make it as easy as
possible for anyone to get involved in their community, to help solve food insecurity. The
connections we forge across organizations and individuals are the fuel that keep us going.
By engaging the community face-to-face in supporting hunger relief and your organization,
your PORCH Chapter Leader is a valuable addition to your extended team. With predictable
monthly activity the chapter leader can make special requests of donors at a moment’s
notice when emergencies require, and can work with you to further engage the community
in new and expanding ways over time.

Start a PORCH today with just one person
You know what hunger looks like in your area, what your clients need. You also know people
who want to help. What you don’t have are the resources to activate them to provide
ongoing community donations and support. PORCH Communities can. Together we can put
out the call for a volunteer to step up and start a PORCH chapter in your area — a staff
member, current pantry volunteer who wants to do more or a friend of the pantry who has
been waiting for the right opportunity — and we can take it from there.
Schedule a conversation to learn more about PORCH Communities and how to launch
ongoing community support for your pantry.