The Rose Street Food Pantry is a public access point for people to get food. It is a free standing 4 level cabinet that is filled with food every day. It's open 24 hours a day and used by over 300 people per week.
We created this to support our neighbors who are dealing with the fact that food prices continue to rise. Our food pantry relies 100% on food donations from neighbors in Berkeley and Oakland and Emeryville who take time to come here and drop off food.
We recently have switched to a 100% community supported model. For the last 21 months, 2 people have been stocking it daily. We have decided that we need a break until the new year. So. it truly is up to the kindness of strangers now to bring food donations. That is what will keep this project going.
So far, so good! Someone dropped off three bags of perfectly great food just yesterday. We love seeing the pantry packed with food. It's the best feeling in the world. It kind of looks like the person who dropped the food off did a deep clean and clutter clear of their cupboards, which is great! All that food will find a new home within 24 hours. Food cycles through very quickly here. There is a lot of foot traffic and people who use it daily. We have regulars!
Our food pantry is just like a Little Free Library, except it's food. It's used every day to help reduce food insecurity and food waste in our neighborhood. It was started by 2 people who live on Rose Street who have always wanted to do a project like this one.
The main purpose of the project is to help people who are struggling with food insecurity. Lots of our neighbors who are housed use it on a daily basis. They have told us that it really helps - especially since food prices are so insane!
The pantry operates on the honor system and an invitation to, "Take Something, Leave Something". Some days there may not be any food on the shelves. Other days, there is a lot. There are some days where one person cleans it out. We have learned that this is going to happen, and we cannot regulate it.
Every Wednesday we do a pick up of 40-50 loaves of ACME bread, and all of the bread is distributed to our neighborhood by the next day. We package it in Kraft paper bags with cellophane so that no one else touches the bread until it is opened by our neighbors. We have been picking up and processing ACME donations for over a year. To think that all of that gorgeous ACME bread would have just gone to waste and thrown into a dumpster. This is why we love this project -- it prevents food waste!
Update as of August 14, 2022
An Open Letter to Everyone Who Uses and Donates to the Food Pantry:
We have seen the food pantry help fill in the gaps when food banks are closed. People really do use it at all hours of the day and night!
We are asking you, neighbors, to continue to bring food to the pantry when you can. It needs to be 100% community run.
We will need to rely even more on the kindness of others. We have seen many, MANY people drive right up to it and unload groceries to donate to the people who will be using it that day.
We hope you will help us continue this grassroots community project that is independent and sustainable. We have run the project since October 2020 and have picked up, bought, repackaged and rescued over $50,000 worth of food in the last 21 months. It has been a source of food for many people and a place to share food. A way to give that's easy and very practical.
For the rest of 2022, we have decided that we will no longer be stocking it every day. So if you are a person who has dropped off food before, we appreciate you and wanted to let you know that we are taking a necessary break until the start of 2023.
However, we will continue to pick up and package ACME bread every Wednesday unless something comes up that week. We are committed to keeping the pantry wiped down regularly and the area clean. We always remove items that are rotting, opened or spilled. We love food and want to treat it with respect! Feel free to reach out - we would love to hear from you.
- Veronica & Henry
thank you so, so much!
Supporters of the
Rose Street Food Pantry
Why did We Start a Little Free Food Pantry?
The truth is, this is a radical way to share wealth and resources.
We like that it is by the people, for the people.
We like that there are no rules.
People can drop off food in the middle of the night. People can come by at 6am and find a treat, waiting for them.
It is a direct way to address food insecurity. We know it has been working, because we are the ones who have been stocking it for over a year and a half. We see how quickly the food finds a new home: often within an hour of stocking it, all the food is gone.
Who has not been shocked by the prices at the grocery store lately? This is a very pragmatic way to help out your neighbors. Everything that is dropped off goes home with someone. Sometimes, you might have bought too much. Or you have leftovers. Or something is just past the expiry date. Lately, someone has been dropping off food from a health food store. Brand new packages - just a few days after the suggested expiry.
It is open 24 hours a day, and there is no sign in sheet or requirements to use it. Part of why it works so well is that you can be anonymous. The stigma of going to a food bank is just not there. It's very easy for people to drop off food donations, too. There are always a few open parking spots right in front of it.
We chose to put the pantry in a really great spot. There is a thick green hedge behind you, as you look at what's inside. If it was in front of someone's house, it might not feel as private and people might not use it.
We are feeding seniors, single moms and dads, middle school kids, high school kids, people who live in their cars up the street, and folks who are experiencing homelessness and living in Cedar Rose Park in an RV or sleeping in the park.
If you start a little free pantry in your neighborhood, you can partner with local businesses who toss perfectly good food at the end of the day. If you have questions for us, please get in touch with us. We have learned a lot by doing this project for almost two years!
Veronica and Henry, Food Pantry Enthusiasts