Feeding America Logo

Find your Local Pantry

Get Involved button

Make a Donation


Frequently Asked Questions

Program Basics:


What is the School Pantry Program?
The purpose of the school pantry on campus is to provide supplemental food resources to chronically hungry students who do not have access to food at home. The school pantry may fill a gap in a community where access to a regular food pantry is not available.

How is it different from the Snack Pack Program?
The Snack Pack Program was established to serve chronically hungry school aged students with a take home bag of food for the weekend for 1 child. Student/Parent/Teacher survey results indicate that the food is shared with siblings and family members. A pantry concept helps feed the whole family not just one child.

Who qualifies for the program?

The school pantry program targets chronically hungry students – students who might have very little or nothing to eat at home. There are a variety of indicators that teachers and school personnel can use to recognize students that are chronically hungry. Each school pantry is unique in how it distributes food to students and families.  Some schools make the pantry available for neighborhood residents.

Students accessing the school pantry can be self-identified or referred by themselves or identified by a school counselor, school-based social worker or school official. These individuals will refer students based on their need for food.

How is the program set up?
The school pantry is set up so that students can come byand select the food that they need throughout the week. The pantry can be a closet, an unused classroom or a cabinet. The pantry should be in a secure location.

Who manages the school pantry?
Generally, a school staff member (counselor, teacher, principal) is responsible for coordinating the program. Coordinators act as a liaison to staff and students to inform them about the program.

What types of foods are in the pantry?
The school pantry may provide a variety of foods to students, depending on the equipment and facilities available at the school. Foods may be shelf-stable (dry goods), perishable (fresh fruits and vegetables, refrigerated, or frozen). Some foods will be ready-to-eat, while others require preparation. Care must be taken to ensure that foods appropriate to students’ home situations are provided.

The school coordinator and back up coordinator are trained and have access to the Food Bank’s ordering system. While much of the inventory is available for schools to order, there are certain products that are best geared towards this program.

How often is food distributed to students?
Food is distributed to students depending on the students’ need and home situation.  Staff are encouraged to set School Pantry hours of operation that are convenient for their students to visit and pick up food as well as available for emergency needs throughout the day.

What kind of information should the school track?

The pantry coordinator is responsible for keeping track of program referrals and the distribution log. Maintaining referral forms is the sole responsibility of the coordinator. We encourage other staff assistance with getting qualifying students on the program.

The coordinator is also responsible for tracking how much food has been distributed at your school. A distribution log is provided from Food Bank staff and will help coordinators keep track of the number of students and the total visits to the pantry each week. The coordinator will report these figures to Food Bank staff at the end of every month.

The Food Bank uses stories of how the pantry program helps students overcome hunger. These stories are shared with Food Bank partners and donors. School coordinators are encouraged to provide stories on a regular basis.

The Food Bank uses stories of how the pantry program helps students overcome hunger. These stories are shared with Food Bank partners and donors. School coordinators are encouraged to provide stories on a regular basis.

What is the cost of the program for my school?
West Ohio Food Bank provides all of the food at no cost to the school. There is a shared maintenance fee to cover the cost of collecting, sorting, and distributing the food at $.19 a pound and if food is delivered by West Ohio food Bank there is a $.10 a pound delivery fee. If the product is picked up by the school, there is no delivery fee.

How can I get my school signed up to participate?
Contact Tommie Harner, CEO, West Ohio Food Bank at tommie@wofb.org or call 419 222 7946 X 202. Tommie will provide a brief overview of the School Pantry program and other options to consider and discuss how your school can partner with the Food Bank.