19 Jul Little Free Pantries
The Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library Staff Association is proud to announce the placement of their first three Little Free Pantry (LFP) locations.
The library has worked diligently to obtain approval, build, and install these community-driven pantry boxes. It has been an effort started by the library’s Staff Association for the critical purpose of addressing food insecurity. “The initial inspiration came from Studio Z’s Little Free Pantry outside their business.” explained Kaitlin Tipsword, Staff Association officer. “I kept seeing people on social media sharing when it was empty and when it got filled again I could see there was clearly a need for this type of community-oriented program.”
Little Free Pantries are similar to the concept of Little Free Libraries with the “take what you need, leave what you can” philosophy. The library currently has over 20 Little Free Libraries across Plainfield and started placing them in the community in 2013.
The pantries aim to connect the community with non-perishable canned vegetables and proteins, personal care items, and paper goods. “It is really all about neighbors helping neighbors, even on a small-scale,” explains Jeannine Spurgin, Staff Association President. Kid-friendly non-perishables, crayons, and children’s items are great for summer. Personal care items, such as diapers and wipes, paper products, and feminine hygiene products are also in high demand.
“Accessibility is key,” says Spurgin. “We wanted to make sure these pantries are in areas that can be easily accessed by community members. The Town of Plainfield, Plainfield Town Council, and Plainfield Parks and Recreation department have been important partners in getting these pantries in good locations.”
The LFP locations are at Franklin Park off of Lincoln Street, the Vandalia Trail Head near Smith Road and Township Line Road, and the Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library on Simmons Street.
“We knew we wanted to make sure we could stock the pantries immediately with food and personal care products. The library hosted a Food For Fines event during National Library Week where people could pay off overdue fines by donating non-perishable foods, as well as personal hygiene and cleaning products.” explains Spurgin. “We are using these initial donated items to stock the pantries.” The Staff Association also held a bake sale to help raise funds to purchase extra items for the pantries.
Many local food pantries require an application process before use and have set hours and days of operation. The good news is anyone may access a LFP at any time. “It is important that there are places where people can get food and hygiene products without asking or being made to feel ashamed by the stigma attached.” says Tipsword. The main goal, of course, is feeding hungry people, but community collaboration is also very meaningful. Children, families, and organizations can help as well as the library staff.
Community members are encouraged to get involved by donating items to the Little Free Pantries across town. “It’s important for people to understand that anyone can be in need.” explains Tipsword. “Sometimes you’re running late for work and forget your lunch. These pantries help provide for the whole community.”