How to Start a Food Hamper Ministry

So, you sense God is leading you to start a ministry providing food to those in need. Excellent idea! I can help you!

Working in an outreach ministry is a wonderful experience. If you have a heart for working with people, this is a good fit.

Not everyone who needs food is “needy”. There are many people who may have a hard time making ends meet once in a blue moon, and therefore need a ‘hand up’ to the end of the month. These people could even be in your congregation!

Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (KJV)

You’re in a perfect place to minister to the least of these!

Outreach Ministry | Food Hamper Ministry | Helping Others
Free Stock Photo: Jennifer Pallian with StockSnap


Let’s get right to it with your new To Do list:

  • You should develop a plan to present to your pastor(s) and Board. Included in that plan can be a job description for the Ministry Coordinator and other volunteers who will be part of this team.
  • Food – you will need donations of canned goods from the congregation or purchase them locally.
    • Will you have only dry goods or also frozen meals or fresh produce and meat?
    • Will you secure donations of day old baked goods from a local supermarket?
    • Decide on what staples should be included in the hampers.
    • Decide if you will have one hamper size or three, ie, single person, single parent, or family of 4+ persons.
    • What will you distribute the hampers in? Will you reuse/recycle grocery bags or boxes? Will you invest in cloth reusable bags with your church name/logo?
    • Will you purchase additional food if donations were not received? Will you have a budget? If so, what will be the terms of this budget? For example, will you be given funds from petty cash or hand in receipts for reimbursement?
    • Will you provide Food Hamper Ministry pledge cards to the congregation as a reminder of what they can donate each month? Will you promote the Ministry in the weekly bulletin?
    • Will you provide a list of the staples to the congregation so they can provide what you need for the hampers? Remind people they should check the Best Before date of all food they donate. Also, the food needs to be in its original packaging, not re-packaged with one item missing.
    • Will you provide a shopping list (if purchasing food) to the Purchasing/ Receiving volunteer?
  • Policy and Procedure Manual.
  • Confidentiality Statement – if the church does not have one, you should develop one.
  • Application for Assistance.
  • Shelving system for the food in a locked room.
  • Contact Cards to leave with the client or to promote the Ministry in the community.
  • Tracking Record – record the date, client name, hamper size given, and miscellaneous.
  • Corporate fund raising letter to secure partnerships with local supermarkets for baked goods, canned goods.
    • Draft a “thank you” letter when you secure partnership(s).

These are just a few of things that you may need to get started on this initiative.

Let’s look at the plan to present to the Pastor. All these things mentioned above are part of that plan. You do not need to have each item finalized or even drafted at this point. You do need to have a vision for the outcome of this ministry. A rough outline describing your intention should suffice for this initial meeting with your senior pastor.


Food Hamper Ministry | Outreach Ministry | Helping Others
Free Stock Photo: Jennifer Pallian with StockSnap

To help you out, I have templates for you for the following. FHO stands for Food Hamper Outreach, just in case you were wondering.

  • FHO Contact Cards – business card size
  • FHO Hamper Distribution List
  • FHO Pledge Cards
  • FHO Policy and Procedure
  • FHO Shopping List
  • FHO Application for Assistance
  • FHO Confidentiality Statement
  • FHO Corporate Fundraising Letter
  • FHO Tracking Record

The above documents are PDF files. You will have to recreate them to suit your purposes.

Would you like a peek at a couple of the files?

Here you go!

Application for Assistance Form

Decide on the frequency of hamper provision per family, then you will need one form per visit, for example, you could decide that your policy will be to supplement what other community agencies are providing and your ministry will provide one hamper per three months for a maximum of four hampers per calendar year. The bottom of the form, under the Date line, is Qualifying Visit   /4. Fill in which visit this is, ie, 1 of 4 (maximum), 2 of 4, etc. When the client is on their third visit, inform them they have one more visit, then they will have to wait til the next calendar year.

Keep a supply of blank forms in your binder for the weekly visits. Also, keep the completed forms filed in the binder, alphabetically, as you will be referring to them weekly when clients arrive for hampers. Depending on the notes you collect, these forms can be used for follow up of previous conversations, ie, how did the job interview go back in {name the month}?

When completing these forms, it is best not to write any notes that would be derogatory or demeaning.


Food Hamper Distribution List

This distribution list is for the purpose of packing the hamper. It is easy to forget what should be in the hamper so it makes sense to follow a list.

This example includes food that would provide meals for the next few days. It is not intended to be a weekly, biweekly or monthly shopping list for the client.

Each column indicates the size of the hamper, Individual or Single person, Single Parent with 2 children or Family of 4 plus members.

If your ministry is also going to provide fresh produce or other fresh food, or even frozen homemade meals (I have templates and plans for that too!) then you will want to include that on the list as well.


Pledge Cards

The pledge cards are intended for the congregation as reminders of what they should bring to the monthly (or other frequency) benevolence drive. There are five cards per letter size page. By specifying what you need, you stand a better chance of obtaining appropriate food as it is too often when some well intended person will bring in something that you cannot hand out. We’ve had this happen many times and had no choice but to trash it.


As I mentioned earlier, the PDF files will need to customized to suit your church’s unique needs. You’re half way there with these free printable files, below, that you do not need to subscribe for. These are valuable resources to get your started on your own outreach ministry!

FHO Assistance Form

FHO Confidentiality Statement

FHO Contact Cards – Business Card Size

FHO Corporate Fundraising Letter

FHO Distribution List

FHO Job Description

FHO Pledge Cards

FHO Policy and Procedure

FHO Shopping List

Hope this helps your process for your new ministry!

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About Cindy

Lovin' the Word of God - reading it - studying it - sharing it - living it!

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