Stocking Foods for Startup

So you got it all lined up – space, personnel, and FUNDING!!!!

Some food pantries rely only on direct donations of food, and others purchase what they distribute either at cost, wholesale, or through a local food bank. A common question when one is poised looking at shelves to fill for that first distribution is “what do we buy? Here is a list of suggestions for those who are stocking non-perishables only.

This is a list of the most commonly used items we know of per food category. We recommend that you track what foods are most popular so you can stock accordingly. Also, many campus pantries have a mission that includes foods that are culturally, religiously, or medically significant for clients. It helps to ask clients to identify these foods the first time they sign in. You can use this list to inform your purchasing in the future.

Canned vegetables: corn, beans, peas, tomatoes (crushed, diced, sauce…all are great)

Canned fruit: peaches, pears, apple sauce

Canned soups: bring in a wide variety. The concentrates are good, but the ones that can just be opened and heated up are more popular. Be sure to get vegetarian options.

Boxed/packaged Meals: macaroni and cheese, hamburger helper and rice-a-roni style meals. We highly recommend avoiding Top Ramen unless requested by your students.

Grains: rice (white and brown), pastas, mashed potato flakes, oats, cereals, corn meal/masa. Have at least one gluten-free option.

Protein: peanut/almond butter, nuts, beans (canned and/or dried), lentils, tuna, canned chicken, spam, shelf-stable tofu. Be sure to have some vegetarian options.

Misc food items: cooking oil, spices, sauces (these are awesome to have, but can be hard to come by or expensive)

Other items: toilet paper, cleaning supplies (same as the misc items – they can be hard to get and/or expensive)


What other items do you think are good starter stock-ups?

Originally published by Clare Cady February 17, 2015

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