Baltimore, MD

Client choice food programs around Maryland

Heather Jauquet

Photo by Aaron Doucett on Unsplash

More client choice food programs are becoming available around Maryland. Client choice food programs allow people who are seeking food assistance to choose for themselves what products they receive. It cuts down on waste and allows people to have autonomy in their food choices. It is also a way to provide dignity for people who require help.  

There are different types of client choice pantries. Some resemble small grocery stores where clients can walk and choose their food. Others will provide a list to their clients letting them know what they have. 

Having the opportunity to choose their own food gives the people being served a sense of dignity and control, limits waste (since they tend not to take food they won’t use), and allows them to tailor the help they receive to be the best possible fit for their own unique situation. —End Hunger in America

According to the Manna Food Bank, there are many benefits to the pantry, clients, and volunteers when using the client choice model for the pantry. While it’s a shift from the traditional providing a preselected box or bag of food, volunteers find that providing the client choice model is work that is just different, not more difficult.

“The work is just different, not more difficult.” — Manna Food Bank

When choosing a client choice model the pantries find:

  • There is less food waste as clients receive food that they like or will use. There is less chance of them throwing away food that doesn’t suit their families.
  • It helps when purchasing food for the pantry. They know which foods are more readily chosen and they can gear their shopping to provide the food that clients will use. It provides savings for the pantry and can stretch their monetary donations.
  • If staff and volunteers spend less time bagging and boxing pre-made selections, they can translate that time to longer hours or opening on weekends, making the pantry more accessible to the population.
  • When people can choose their own food instead of being given a handout, it provides a sense of dignity and in turn, will help impact their confidence.
  • Teaches the skill of budgeting. Those utilizing the pantry will have a better understanding of what food they consume use during the week.  
  • Those who have special diets due to medical conditions can get the foods they need instead of receiving food that they can’t eat. 

The three biggest takeaways from providing a client choice pantry are:

  1. Provides dignity for those utilizing the food pantry.
  2. Less food waste. 
  3. Better use of money and financial donations.

Where can you find Client Choice Food Programs in Maryland?

Light House: A Homeless Prevention Support Center

Address: 10 Hudson Street, Annapolis, MD 21401


Phone number: 410-349-5056

“We provide hot meals, bagged lunches, and perishable and non-perishable foods through our Client Choice Pantry.” —Light House: A Homeless Prevention Support Center

As of right now, there will not be any hot lunches until further notice. However, bagged lunches will be provided daily from 7:00am to 7:00pm.

The client choice food pantry is open:

Drive-Through: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am to 12pm

Walk-up: Daily (Sunday through Saturday) 7am to 7pm

In addition to the food pantry, the Safe Harbour Resource Center at the Light House also provides free shower and laundry facilities:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 8:30am-2:00pm
  • Wednesdays: 12:00pm-5:00pm

Fishes and Loaves Pantry

Address: 2422 W. Patapsco Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

Phone number: (410) 525-0969

Fishes and Loaves pantry is open Monday through Friday 9am-12pm and 1pm-5pm. According to the Maryland Food Bank webpage, “The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) can receive food once every 30 days. Bring your I.D. Department of Social Services (DSS)—Fishes and Loaves accept vouchers from Baltimore's Department of Social Services Pantry. A photo I.D. is strongly encouraged, but not mandatory to receive service. Proof of address can be provided if your identification is not up-to-date.

We use a method called "client choice,” meaning that we have a selection of products that people can choose from. This prevents waste and allows people to feel better about their experience. Our policy at Fishes and Loaves Pantry is to serve all of our clients with equal quality and respect. We do not discriminate according to race, religion, color, gender, age, disability, or nationality.—Fishes and Loaves Pantry

Amazing Grace Lutheran Church Food Pantry

2424 McElderry Street

Baltimore, MD 21205


For food pantry information contact Carol Perlie, who is the Health and Healing Ministry Coordinator:

"Connecting People with the Life-Changing Power of Jesus Christ” —Amazing Grace Luther Church

Amazing Grace Lutheran Church Food Pantry is a client choice based program where visitors decide what they will take home to feed their families serving residents of zip codes 21205, 21224, and 21231.

The Food Pantry is open on Wednesdays 2pm to 4pm. You can sign up in advance by calling the church office at 410-276-5674.  

GEDCO (Govans Ecumenical Development Corporation) and CARES program:

Address: 5502 York Road, Baltimore, MD 21212 behind St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church

Phone number: 410-532-2273

The CARES provides the food pantry, emergency financial assistance, and job services.

The CARES Food Pantry through GEDCO serves zip codes: 21210, 21212, 21239, and 21218 from the Baltimore City line to 33rd Street.

Client-Choice Food Pantry: Mondays and Thursdays 9am-11am and Saturdays 10am-12pm (noon).

"GEDCO is committed to a just society that respects the dignity and worth of all people, values diversity, upholds community, encourages each person’s contribution, and fosters growth toward personal independence" —GEDCO Values Statement

Each of the programs listed values human dignity. They believe in the worth of all people. 

Is there a client choice food pantry I've missed? Please drop me a comment and I'll add it to the list.

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Certified educator K-12 and Reading Specialist with a focus on the adolescent brain. I write about how how educational decisions affect parents, students, and staff. As an educator and parent I also focus on community events for the whole family.


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