When a pantry converts to a client-choice model, the pantry needs to be in tune with the wants and needs of its constituents. At times, the pantry might wish to shape those wants and needs by offering cooking demonstrations or classes in order to show clients how to use certain products. In Middletown, Ohio a choice pantry had received several pallets of dried figs. The bags of figs sat on the shelves for at least a couple of weeks without many taking them home. The pantry director asked the county Extension office what they could do to move the lonely figs. In response to the request, the SNAP education program assistant embarked on weeks of fig cooking demonstrations and taste testing within the pantry. Fig pudding, fig bread, fig salad, and trail mix were demonstrated and sampled. As a result of these events, 15,000 Ibs of figs were moved!

Within the same pantry on a different occasion, the pantry was having trouble moving loaves of bread from Panera. The volunteers were speculating why clients weren’t choosing the bread, and some arrived at the conclusion that clients were lazy or simply didn’t like the inconvenience of cutting the bread. Once again, the Extension office was consulted on the issue. The SNAP educator in this instance, rather than offering food demonstrations, encouraged volunteers to simply ask clients why they weren’t choosing the bread. As it turns out, many clients weren’t taking the bread because they didn’t own bread knives! The pantry decided to ask for a donation of bread knives to distribute to clients. When the bread knives were offered along with the bread, the bread shelf was empty within the first hour!