For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. – Deuteronomy 15:11
Most of the world’s great religious texts have a lot to say on the topics of hunger, helping, and charity. If your food pantry is affiliated with a church or other religious group, you may wish to consult the teachings of your faith for answers to the following questions:
1. How often should you provide help to someone who asks for it? Once a month? Three times a year? As often as they ask for it?
2. What attitude are you called to have in your dealings with the needy? Are you to be their master or their servant? (That is, do you enforce rules on them that they have no choice but to submit to in order to get help, or do you invite them to receive help on their terms?)
3. What procedures and criteria are you supposed to use in either approving or disapproving a request for help? Are you to make them “prove” their need and worthiness, or are you to help them just because they asked?
4. How much food should you give those in need? Some set amount? As much as you think they need? Or as much as they think they need?
5. What types of food should you offer the needy? What you think people like them should eat, or a free choice of whatever is available? (As with #2 above, are you to be the master or the servant?)
6. What expectations or conditions should you place on obtaining subsequent or ongoing aid? Does Scripture mandate that your clients must be looking for a job? Or that they must attend certain religious services? Or that they should be required participate in cooking or budgeting classes?
Please review what your faith says about helping the needy and revise your pantry’s policies and procedures as needed. When you are doing God’s work you really need to do it God’s way!
You can find an extensive collection of quotes on hunger, helping, and charity from many of the world’s great religious texts here.