If neighbourhoods can have small, informal libraries, why not pantries too?
That’s the mindset of a group of students from Queen Elizabeth Public School. They recently opened the Little Free Pantry on Adelaide Street in Chatham beside Family Service Kent.
It’s a pilot project, brought about with the help of East Side Pride, Schatz Bros. Construction, Denomy’s Audio Video and Family Service Kent.
Based on the familiar “take a book, leave a book” concept of a Little Free Library, the Little Free Pantry will be stocked with items for neighbours who need them.
Teacher Jennifer Kranenburg said the students really impressed her.
“I’m so proud of these kids. It was sort of their idea,” she said of the grades five and six students.
The students discussed food security issues during their social studies and the idea came about to see if they could open a miniature food bank of sorts.
Kranenburg said the concept first came to light back in November, but the heavy duty planning and creation took place in May.
One of the most difficult obstacles came when it was time to build. Who would put it together?
That’s where fathers, uncles and Shatz Bros. came in.
As for where the pantry would go, Kranenburg said the students knew where they wanted it in general, but they didn’t have an exact place for it.
“It was important to the students that it was in this neighbourhood,” she said of the east side of Chatham. “And in a safe location.”
Enter Family Service Kent. The pantry is located at the side of the building.
Brad Davis, executive director of Family Service Kent, said it was easy to get involved.
“Family Service Kent is really proud to support this initiative,” he said, offering up a place in the office for donated items if the Little Free Pantry is full.
Marjorie Crew, a founder of the East Side Pride community group and a Family Service Kent employee, loved the initiative, adding she is very proud of the students, many of whom live in the neighbourhood.
When seeking a grant from East Side Pride, Crew said the kids were grilled.
“Our group asked a lot of tough questions. They (the students) had plans for sustainability. I’m so proud of all of them,” she said.
Not content to simply build and erect the structure – which is about the size of a large mailbox – the students also wanted to help fill it.
They held a plant sale recently at the school and used all the proceeds to pay for food and toiletry items, paying close attention to store sales to stretch their dollars as far as they could.
With the donation of Family Service Kent staff and various community individuals, the students filled the pantry, and then some.
To donate, simply stop by the pantry and add an item. The students ask that nothing be in a glass container, however.
For more information on Little Free Pantries, please go to http://www.littlefreepantry.org/frequently-asked-questions/