Access to sufficient and nutritious food is a human right.
What is the JFS Specialty Pantry?
Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County has the only Specialty Food Pantry in the county.
The Specialty Food Pantry serves a broad spectrum of residents in need living in Washtenaw County including single adults, families with children, older adults and newly resettled refugees. In addition to the non-perishable items we also provide fresh produce, meats, and a variety of specialty food items to those with medical or religious dietary restrictions.
At JFS we do not prepack bags for clients to pick up. Instead we allow individuals to shop for the items they would like within the guidelines of how many bags they can have and how much of each type of item (i.e. one canned fruit option). We try to mimic a grocery store experience as much as possible from the bags we use to the customer service we provide.
The JFS Specialty Food Pantry is the only one of its kind in Washtenaw County, regularly offering specialty food items such as gluten-free, dairy free, low-sodium and liquid nutrition for seniors as well as specialty food products for those who observe Kosher and Halal food guidelines.
When is the Pantry Open?
The pantry has open access hours every Tuesday and Thursday from 11am-4pm.
Home delivery is done in Ann Arbor the third Tuesday and Wednesday of the month. Ypsilanti deliveries are done the last Thursday of the month.
Who Uses the Pantry?
Food insecurity can happen to anyone and consequently we see a wide range of individuals and circumstances that use our Specialty Food Pantry. Our refugee families use our pantry to provide for them until they establish food stamp benefits or become financially self-sufficient. We also serve older adults, past immigrant families, families, and individuals with physical and mental disabilities. If you find that you are having difficulties working with a particular client please let your JFS supervisor know and we can provide you tips and other strategies.
How Does Someone Use the Pantry?
People find out about our food pantry from friends, case workers, medical teams, or online. When someone first comes into the pantry, without a prior screening, they are able to get enough food for one individual. Later they will be called by a JFS staff person or intern and will be screened to see how many family members they have and another needs they might have. They need to complete the screening to continue using the service. JFS clients who use other JFS services have already completed a screening.
We do not ask for proof of income but we do ask for proof of number of family members in the household.
After established an individual can use the food pantry 1x per month. Exceptions are made for newly arrived refugee families who may shop 1x per week or until they receive food stamps or financial independence. Other exceptions to the 1x a month rule are made on a case by case basis.
The number of bags someone receives is based on their household size (see attached). The bag is non-perishable food items. In addition to that bag an individual will receive meat, dairy items, eggs, and produce as well as personal care products.
The JFS Specialty Pantry Visit
What to Expect
- Client will come in and sign into reception.
- JFS staff/interns check the sign-in sheet and see when the last time a client came in was and how many people are in their household.
- Clients are brought in by JFS staff, intern, or volunteer in the order that they arrived.
- Client will come and sign their USDA sheet
- Client will pick out dairy, eggs, and meat options.
- Client then moves to non-perishable items, produce, and finally personal care products.
- When the client leave the JFS staff/intern will document the visit.