By Nikki McKim; photos by Chelsie Alexander
The Little Free Pantry in Falls City, dedicated to helping those in need, now needs some help of its own.
The Pantry, built by Josh Rhodd, was installed in 2018 by Jessica Santo and the Role Model Team consisting of senior girls.
When Santo read about the Little Free Pantry movement on social media, she knew immediately that she wanted to bring it to Falls City. Along with her RoleModels, Santo raised funds for the lumber and glass, painted the cupboard a warm smoky-blue color, and placed it in the mini-park at 15th and Stone Streets. The cupboard’s purpose is to be placed in public places such as parks and stocked with non-perishable items such as diapers, canned food and vegetables for needy families to access easily.
This winter, the LFP was vandalized.
Santo received a call late one night that the Pantry was on the ground. When she arrived, it was clear that someone had pushed it until it had snapped off its base. The Pantry was screwed securely into the base, so the weather wasn’t a factor. The contents were scattered everywhere.
“We picked up the food and brought the pantry home with me to repair,” said Santo. “It’s frustrating, to say the least. When we installed the LFP, it was my hope that it would bring awareness to food insecurity, boost those who need it and also allow our community to come together and help each other. We’ve faced hurdles, but we won’t stop.”
The 2022 Role Model Team is giving the Pantry a make-over thanks to the Falls City Jaycees and other individuals in the community.
“It’s our goal to bring the pantry back brighter and happier than ever,” said Santo.
Santo said that it’s been recommended that she install a security camera at the Little Free Pantry, and she’s thought about it many times.
“It comes down to this, food insecurity is a major problem in our country and community. I genuinely believe that installing a camera goes against the heart of what the LFP stands for,” said Santo. “It’s a place where individuals can go when they need a meal without the worry of judgment and hoops to jump through. It’s neighbors helping neighbors and I want anyone who visits the LFP to feel happy to do so. I don’t want them feeling that they are being monitored and judged. BUT our community can help! We can keep an eye on it. If you drive by and see food on the ground or the door open, stop and help.”
Santo said the Pantry would be empty from time to time. There is no schedule to stock the Pantry or pressure to keep it stocked full.
“If your heart feels up to it, snag a couple extra can goods and place them in the LFP on your way home,” said Santo.
Another way to help out is to keep an eye on the Pantry’s Facebook Page for updates. If you would like to help, you can make a monetary donation that can be deposited in the Little Free Pantry account and F&M Bank. Donating to the Little Free Pantry is also easy. Once installed, you can leave your donation there. Anyone can take a donation as well; Santo asks that you also remember others in need and not deplete the Pantry.
“Live up to the motto, Take what you need. Leave what you can,” said Santo. “We are neighbors helping neighbors. #fallscityproud”
For more information on the Little Free Pantry at 15th and Stone Street, visit https://www.facebook.com/littlefreepantryfc or visit http://www.jessicasanto.com/2022-rolemodels.