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Building a Healthy Pantry

Posted on May 8, 2018 by Kathryn Kitchen

While striving to live a healthy lifestyle, life is made easier when the environment around us supports healthy choices. We spend most of our days at work, yet most of the food available at state agencies is not necessarily healthy. We at Thrive know that many agencies desire healthy food to be available at their locations. Because of this, we created a toolkit to help agencies get started with a Healthy Pantry. A Healthy Pantry is a snack and/or meal vending option run entirely by state employees. The purpose is to provide access to purchase healthier food choices as defined by the General Services Administration (GSA) guidelines. 

Thrive recently implemented a Healthy Pantry at our location in OKC. Here is an overview of the steps we took to make it happen: 

  1. Determine the food to be offered. Use the Healthy Pantry toolkit’s recommended list of healthy food and the GSA guidelines to determine food available for purchase at nearby grocery stores. 


  1. Survey your employees. Are employees interested in a Healthy Pantry? Which healthy foods are they likely to purchase? These questions need answers before you move forward.  


  1. Fund the pantry. Each Healthy Pantry will take an initial start-up fund of about $50-100; the exact cost will vary by agency size and employee participation. For funding costs, Thrive suggests having an employee fund drive to see if employees are willing to donate money to help front the initial start-up costs. These costs can be paid back upon implementation. If a member of the staff is willing to donate the start-up funds, even better. 


  1. Stock the pantry and price the food. Use the employee survey to decide on the food you will buy, and the toolkit (link) for detailed pricing guidelines.   


  1. Determine how you will collect money. Thrive suggests utilizing the honor system or having a designated person close to the Healthy Pantry to keep bills and change in a cash jar or money box. 


  1. Open the pantry to employees. Announce that the new Healthy Pantry is open and enjoy having healthy food available at your worksite! 

If you are interested in implementing a Healthy Pantry at your location, please download our toolkit (link). If you need assistance during the process, please email us at [email protected].  

Kathryn Kitchen's picture

Kathryn Kitchen

[email protected]
Kathryn Kitchen is the health and well-being manager for OMES and leader of Thrive. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer whose passion is creating an optimal environment for organizational health and employee well-being. Kathryn enjoys spending quality time with her family, cooking, hosting social gatherings and being an active member in her church. Her favorite motto is, "If you don't like the way something is, do something to change it."