According to the USDA more than 38 million people including 13 million children in the US, are Food Insecure. In Washington State, 1 in 10 people and 1 in 7 children face hunger every day. Millions of people are just one job loss, one missed paycheck, or medical emergency away from Hunger.
Covering the “food deserts” across the country, Little Food Pantries (LFPs) are quickly becoming an integral part of the battle against Food Insecurity that has been sweeping the nation since the Covid pandemic. Offering zero-barrier 24/7 access to food to help fill the gaps in our food system, LFPS do not interfere with Food Banks and other agencies; they partner with them and the surrounding Community. Little Food Pantries offer a unique way for individuals and groups to help reduce hunger in one of the richest nations in the world.
Midday Rotary of Gig Harbor is sponsoring five pantries in the more rural areas around Gig Harbor. Three are up and running, and the 4th is being installed now. Two are on church grounds, and the church staff and members help keep an eye on them, but our Rotary members “Steward” them. Our Stewards have seen families and homeless adults using the LFPs, and they are constantly being restocked. This is how we know that we are meeting our goal of getting food to those who need it. Our LFPs are checked twice a week because they are being used by hungry people.
“Filling this pantry does my heart good every time I do it. I have seen needy people using the pantry, and nothing I do seems as relevant. My grandchildren love to be involved, and it teaches them so many lessons.” says Tammis, one of our Stewards.
How does it work? It starts with a simple cupboard on a pole with a door. “Take What You Need, Bring What You Can” is a sign that instructs passersby on how to use the cupboard.
Location is key, permission is essential; accessibility, visibility, and lighting are important.
The Steward of the LFP is responsible for the cleanliness and restocking of the cupboard. The Community is encouraged to contribute food to the pantry, but to be well-maintained, someone needs to periodically check it and restock it.
The Little Food Panty movement began in Arkansas and spread all over Canada and the USA. Whether you have a need for food or a need to GIVE, it is an ideal project for Rotary Clubs to join in on!
All of the pertinent instructions and FAQs can be found at www.littlefreepantry.org