The new food pantry model creates an atmosphere that helps increase clients’ feelings of self-worth and their ability to make changes in their lives.  The case manager provides motivational interviewing to identify clients’ goals and discusses ways to overcome barriers.  This person-centered approach helps build economic empowerment.

The case manager will be adept at Motivational Interviewing and positive role modeling.  In order to effectively adopt the new food pantry model, there should be at least one designated staff or regular volunteer position that is fully trained in Motivational Interviewing to provide case management.  This person will serve as the point-person designated to meet regularly with every client.

The case manager should also have well-developed managerial and supervisory skills to oversee rotating volunteers, interns, and service providers (for nutrition, financial literacy, or employment coaching courses).  It will be the case manager's responsibility to work with members to identify these wrap-around service needs for the pantry’s clientele.  He or she does not need to be an expert in all of these subjects, but will oversee volunteers who coordinate these wrap-around services. 

Beyond these professional talents, the case manager also sets the overall tone and mood for the pantry.  Therefore, many “softer skills” are also equally important.  Seek a case manager who is friendly and engaging.  A personality that is cheerful and connects easily with others is far more important to creating a welcoming, supportive atmosphere than the physical space.

Click here for an example of a job description for a case manager.