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The Place of Forsyth County opens grocery-style food pantry

At a glance

The Market at The Place of Forsyth County is open to provide free supplemental food to residents in need. Current summer shopping hours are:

* Monday — 10 a.m.-noon

* Wednesday — 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

* Thursday — 10 a.m.-noon and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

FORSYTH COUNTY — In an effort to humanize the process of receiving assistance and avoid forcing families to accept food they may not enjoy, a local nonprofit has changed its method of supplying food.

The Place of Forsyth County recently opened The Market, a new client choice model of its food pantry.

The Place has been providing emergency assistance for 40 years. For most of that time, residents would receive pre-packaged bags of donated food items.

Joni Smith, executive director, said the market concept will allow clients to “select the items based on their preferences and better plan menus for their families.”

“Client choice food distribution is a nationwide initiative for a couple of reasons,” she said. “First, it eliminates waste of distributing items that will not be eaten and, second, it is a much more dignified way to offer food.

“Most people do not want to be in the situation of needing assistance, and it is not very dignified to offer a bag of food that people may or may not eat.”

Staffed by volunteers, the small grocery setup enables qualified people to select items based on a point system.

“I evaluated several models of client choice food distribution and found a point system to work best for us,” said Ashley Carroll, food program coordinator and case worker. “We hope that people will enjoy the ability to select their preferred foods.”

Carroll added their goal is to offer fresh fruits and vegetables when funding become available.

The Place relies on donations from the community and is looking for groups and businesses that want to support The Market, whether through donations or volunteering.

Anyone who is in need of supplemental food can contact The Place at (770) 887-1098 to schedule an appointment to qualify for food distribution.