We believe anything worth doing is worth doing great, and this starts with building up the communities in which our customers and their families live, work and play. We’re launching The Great Pantry Project because food insecurity is impacting all sizes and types of communities across the country. Food banks are critical in addressing this issue, and while mini pantries (in general) or The Great Pantry Project (specifically) are not a solution to this larger systemic issue, increasing access to crowd-sourced mini pantries can help fill the gap.
Whether it’s called a mini pantry, a blessing box, a community cupboard, or something similar, it is a small, often handmade structure where people leave donated goods for others to pick up anonymously. Located in a common area, people fill them with items that will help fulfill short-term basic needs.
Jessica McClard launched the grassroots mini pantry movement in May 2016 in Fayetteville, AR, when she planted the Little Free Pantry Pilot, a wooden box on a post containing food, personal care, and paper items accessible to everyone all the time no questions asked. She hoped her spin on the Little Free Library® concept would pique local awareness of food insecurity while creating a space for neighbors to help meet neighborhood food needs.
You can get involved by building and installing your own mini pantry for your community and encouraging your neighbors and friends to do the same. Or, you can find a mini pantry near you and help keep it filled, or take what you need.
You can find a detailed list of materials and tools here.
Don’t forget to create a sign that explains the concept. Something as simple as “Take what you need. Give what you can.” will work.
Any local hardware or home improvement store should have what you need!
For your wood, cedar is great because it’s naturally water-resistant, but you could also use pressure treated pine or other types of wood if they have been properly painted or stained to protect them from the sun, wind and snow. Use recycled and found materials if you can. Build and finish the pantry to last. Use screws rather than nails, wood glue, and several coats of stain or paint, if possible. Great Stuff™ can also be used to help insulate and seal the pantry from unwanted outside intruders like water and bugs.
Unfortunately, we’re not selling pre-built pantries, but we’ve created downloadable blueprints and a step-by-step how-to video to help you or someone you know build your own. Your pantry should be a representation of you, your community, and their needs. Building your own helps add a personal touch and also creates an opportunity to involve your neighbors and friends.
An easily visible spot located in an area where people are free to come and go is key. High-traffic community areas are ideal — for example, close to a local church, community garden or library makes it simple for people to pick up things when they need it, and to donate. If you plan to locate the box in a public place, you’ll need the permission of the property owner, and possibly an okay from your city. When in doubt, contact your neighborhood association or city official.
Keep in mind the following when considering a location:
Dig a 2-foot deep hole (at least) and center the post in the hole. Set a level on top of the platform to make sure the platform is parallel to the ground and not slanted. Fill the hole in with dirt, tamping it down securely as you go until you’ve filled the hole. (This should be enough to securely hold the post in place; concrete usually is not necessary.)
A pantry should serve the needs of the community it resides in while taking into consideration the climate or time of year, but as general guidance:
You’ll want to do some light maintenance in terms of occasionally checking the quality of donated items; bad or unwanted items may not get picked up.
Consult The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996. Determine if it applies to you and manage your project in accord with its tenets.
To avoid splinters, etc., be sure to keep your pantry in good repair. Does your property insurance cover the pantry? If not, you might wish to purchase personal or commercial liability insurance as a safeguard. If you are worried, consult a lawyer.
DISCLAIMER: Instructions for the Little Free Pantry Box are offered solely to provide possible suggestions for your own experimentation. DuPont has not conducted specific testing on this style for its use in storage of pantry items. Builder is solely responsible for determining the acceptability of materials used in its construction and compliance with local municipal building codes and zoning laws. Since we cannot anticipate all variations in actual end-use conditions, DUPONT MAKES NO WARRANTIES AND ASSUMES NO LIABILITY IN CONNECTION WITH ANY USE OF THIS INFORMATION. Nothing in this publication is to be considered as a license to operate under or a recommendation to infringe any trademark or patent right.