Think of it like a Food Library.
We created a free standing food pantry that is open 24 hours a day. It's an easy way for the people in our neighborhood to share extra food with each other. It's a lot like a Little Free Library, where people are invited to give food to share, and take what they need.
50 people interact with it every day and we restock it three times a day. We leave water and sandwiches at night. We stock it with cereal and bars in the morning. All the food cycles through it every day. It's actually kind astounding to us how much food is cycled through every week through this little pantry.
Our ballpark estimate that we have distributed at least $2000 worth of food in every month to families, seniors, single parents, teens and kids in the area. So that's $10,000 of food so far that has been shared, donated and kept from landfill.
We usually have food for 1 week to bring out every day. The pantry is lovingly cared for and cleaned every day. There are days that it is close to empty, so our neighbors notice that and bring food by from their own kitchens and pantries. It's anonymous, so anyone who needs food can come by not feel the stigma of going to a food bank.
Our neighbors drop food by every day, we buy food with cash donations that we receive from friends on next door who support what we do. Everyone around here uses it, and it is self sustainable.
We are 2 designers (one architect and one graphic designer) and the main reason we keep doing this because it connects us all to each other. It's a simple way for us to take care of each other, and to prevent food waste. We just decided to do this on our own. We didn't. know there was a movement of little free pantries all over the U.S. We have since asked to be added to the little free pantries map.
So...Why Do This?
It's a creative solution that solves a bunch of problems. It's a way to share resources... in this case food and hygiene supplies, in which everyone in the immediate neighborhood contributes. We did it mainly because we had 20 lbs of pineapple guavas and we did not want to leave them on the sidewalk. We think guavas deserve more respect than that!! :)
It's stigma free! We both love it and sometimes we find things in the pantry that we take home. It is for food sharing, just like a library. We have used it to give away 500 masks, 300 pairs of cotton socks, and lots of self care supplies.
In terms of how it effects the heart, this is an opportunity to be generous and share what you have and create a very easy, uncomplicated way for everyone to support anyone who loves food and may be having a hard time making ends meet.
We left town for 3 days in January and when we came home, there was lots of food in the pantry which was supplied by people who live in the neighborhood. It passed the sustainability test! And as someone wrote in a note: "The project restores my faith in humanity."
We will share videos and stories of some really amazing things that have happened in the time we have been curating our little pantry. The photo below shows a typical food shopping trip when we are buying for the pantry. The donations we receive in amounts of $20 to $100 and more allows us to buy in bulk and always on sale.
By doing this project we have met so many of our neighbors. It continues to be a point of connection. Everyone uses it! It is set up is a way that we are all responsible for it.
And the best part: there is now an open dialogue of generosity (through actions) on our street because of the pantry. It feels like it has a life of it's own.