Good Neighbors

What We Did When Our Neighborhood's Free Food Pantry Was Destroyed

My friend and I wanted to make sure people wouldn't go hungry so we jumped in to help out.

My friend Ryan McIntyre and I built a Free Little Food Pantry in our community north of Pittsburgh a couple of years ago. Our mothers asked us to do it as part of a group they serve called North Hills Cares.

That's Ryan and me giving a thumbs up right after we first installed the free little food pantry.

The pantry we built was pretty simple. Ryan got a kitchen cabinet and a post, we anchored the post near a busy intersection, and attached the cabinet to the post with a sign on the front that told people to take what food they needed and to leave what they can.

Ever since then people who needed some quick, easy food, like a can of soup, could come by and grab it no questions asked. People who wanted to help could leave food for people who needed it.

I guess it's not a surprise that eventually the rain and snow got to the cabinet. The bottom finally wore out, and last week a windstorm blew it off the post and pretty much destroyed it.

The "new" pantry is a plastic bin which Ryan and I put on top of some cinder blocks to keep it up off the ground and dry. Before we left, Ryan's mom Beth made sure it was full of food. We know people are in need now more than ever so that was good to see.

This pantry will work until Nate Saul finishes building a permanent replacement.

Nate Saul who is a senior at North Hills High School had already started working on building a new pantry (and 2 others which will go in two new locations) for his Eagle Scout project. But in the meantime our temporary pantry should help make sure our neighbors have something to eat in an emergency.

How can you start something good?

People are probably hungry in your community right now, especially with everything that's going on.

You might not have the ability to build a little pantry, but why not check on your neighbors, especially older people, and see if they need somthing to eat.

Food banks need more help too. Click here to search for a food pantry near you by plugging in your zip code. Double check. Some of them might rather have money donations right now, instead of food.

Anyway you look at it, you'll be making a difference.

The Conversation
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