Get to know your pantry
A history of hunger.

A brief glimpse into the history of food insecurity, the rise of food banks, and our efforts to help provide a simple tool to make food pantry management as easy as possible.

Dulling the depression

1930's Chicago

The first meal program in America can tie its roots to a 1930’s Chicago reeling from the great depression. It was a small soup kitchen with a welcoming banner that read “Free Soup Coffee & Doughnuts for the Unemployed”. Over 2,200 jobless Chicagoans lined up around the block every day to receive breakfast, lunch and dinner and no second helpings were denied. This small kitchen set the standard for the meal programs we know today.

Father of food banking

Free Soup

The battle against hunger was drastically bolstered in the mid 1960’s when John van Hengel devoted his life to finding an efficient way to feed Americas hungry. John had a chance encounter with a mother of 10 who explained to him how she feeds her family from the “bank of food”. John enquired further and she explained the bank of food she was referencing was the waste bin behind a local grocery store we surplus food that was otherwise edible was being thrown out. This gave John an epiphany that hunger isn’t a program of lack of supply but a logistical problem. He set out to build a food banking empire that would specialize getting food to the disenfranchised who needed before we were wasted. Today John legacy is visible in the 100,000 of thousands of food pantries and meal programs who receive surplus food from his food banking system feeding millions of individuals worldwide.

Our efforts

Reducing inefficiency

One of the food pantries benefiting from John van Hengel’s life’s work is our own at Sahaba Initiative. For over half a decade now we’ve been battling food insecurity in our community of San Bernardino. Our extended family has over 214,000 individuals who will struggle to secure their next meal, so our pantry has had its work cut out for it. Attempting to remedy hunger in our community is a monumental challenge that we’ve taken on, and to best achieve our goal we need to weed out all inefficiencies in our distribution system. One of the most glaring inefficiencies that we noticed was holding us back both in terms of our service time and our ability to report our impact was the software we used to manage our pantry. When it came to practical use of these software’s they we’re just too slow and lacked intuitive design.

We believe that the software you use to manage your food program should complement and boost your service, not hinder it.

We used the skills we had gained amongst our team and built Pantri to be the answer to these inefficiencies and further give us better insight and impact reports on our efforts. We brought Pantri to the public because we realized we’re not the only food program falling behind in our distribution due to glaring inefficiencies. Now all the benefits we gained from using Pantri in our food pantry are available to all who are fighting food insecurity.