Updated: Aug 2, 2018
“We mean well, our motives are good, but we have neglected to conduct care-full due diligence to determine emotional, economic, and cultural outcomes on the receiving end of our charity.” Toxic Charity
Main Street Marketplace has recently changed the way we serve our neighbors for their food and clothing needs. Through community research, assessments and feedback, our new shopping model provides a better service to our neighbors and community as a whole.
A New Way
Main Street Marketplace chooses to move past the stigma of the “normal food pantry” to a new, refreshing charitable experience. By providing an environment to have a regular shopping experience our neighbors are given the freedom to choose the items they need for their family. Previously, a box of food items would be filled based off a “best guess” of what they needed according to standards, dependent upon family size. Neighbors can now select their own grocery items and also learn how to shop healthy and smart with their tab balance, or credit while still addressing their own unique food requirements.
What is a Tab Balance?
In this process, families are assigned a number of monthly tabs depending of the size of the family. For example 1-2 people will receive 500 tabs, 3-4 people will receive 600 tabs, 5 or more will receive 700 tabs. After neighbors are greeted with a smile and checked in to Main Street Marketplace, they begin to browse the aisles with their shopping carts. Previously neighbors would typically visit the Mission once a month to receive their rations. Neighbors can now visit the Marketplace as often as needed since tabs replenish every month. In hopes of helping to empower our neighbors and community our shopping model sets boundaries by giving neighbors the opportunity to be responsible by budgeting their own tabs, while still experiencing a “commerce” like shopping trip.
Empower through Responsibility
The Marketplace shopping model provides an exchange of tabs for food. Instead of feeling inferior through the food box handout method, our neighbors now feel dignity while shopping for themselves and their families. In addition to personal choice this type of shopping model helps to alleviate the “scarcity mindset” which leads to crisis living. When one realizes that their necessary food supply is available and they may choose what they need, it greatly increases personal stability. This allows individuals to move beyond day to day living. It is through this that our neighbors are then able to begin to build other resources and are empowered to take ownership of their own lives. Neighbors are now experiencing an increase of self worth and confidence and are sharing with others about how Main Street Marketplace is helping to change their lives.