Fundamentals of Food Distribution

By Jeff Palmer, CEO on October 23, 2017 | Print

So, we have our assessments. We’ve made a plan. We’ve purchased food goods and made packets to distribute. And we’ve involved the community in the process of determining the hunger needs, what they need from local markets, and even identifying the most vulnerable segments of the community. We’ve even gotten the community organized and they have set up a system of how the food will be distributed. On top of all this, the transportation is provided for!

Everything should go as planned, right?


To ensure minimal chaos, think through these fundamentals as your plan your day-of food distribution:

  • Pre-select target individuals/families and give vouchers before day of distribution. The “voucher” or “ticket” system clearly defines who will receive. Again, ideally it is monitored and initiated by the community leaders to ensure fairness and justness in the distribution process.
  • Have good crowd control. Only those with vouchers get into distribution area. Use local police or leaders if possible. People can get unruly in a distribution.
  • Have clear and controlled entry and exit routes for your distribution team. Use natural or man-made barriers (rope and posts, side of building, etc). This is safety and security. You don’t want your volunteers trampled in a stampede of hungry people.
  • Don’t distribute out of the back of a truck, from a boat, or out of the trunk of a car. Don’t put you and your team in a dangerous position. People can be very violent during distributions, and you must be able to exit your distribution safely.. An open area with entries and exits is ideal.
  • Have enough for all with vouchers but don’t have excess that you take away from area. When you are finished you can be finished and leave. You can always come another time.
  • Be willing to stop distribution if crowd gets out of control. Seriously…this is sometimes needed.
  • In the midst of the chaos, remember to pray and keep your ears, eyes, and spirit open to where God is working. You will almost always be pleasantly surprised at what He will do and the doors He will open.

Would you be willing to share some other things, a story perhaps, of what you have learned during food distributions?