Ruth's Pantry Cart/First Congregational UCC
In the summer of 2020--and in response to the pandemic--we placed a small open cart in our church garden to share garden produce with hungry neighbors. We also started placing additional (nonperishable) food items on the cart. Due to the high use and need, one of our members constructed a much larger cart that we used over the fall and winter.
Area food banks tell us the cart fills a gap in the food delivery infrastructure in our community. People who are working jobs are still hungry (due to inadequate wages) and are often unable to get to a traditional food pantry during regular hours. Others don't have transportation. Another barrier is that families are limited to a fixed number of food pantry visits, but struggle with hunger and food insecurity in between visits. Food banks and other organizations addressing hunger say they would ideally like to see a network of these small, neighborhood pantries, modeled on the Little Free Libraries.
Our pantry is open 24/7. This is convenient for both donors and recipients.
Six members/families are now filling the cart two or three days per month.
One couple is filling the cart every weekend. Another six individuals/families help fill the cart on a less "scheduled" basis. Notwithstanding this more frequent and regular donation, the cart is emptied very quickly.
We message the congregation regularly about supporting the cart. In addition to bringing food to the cart, our members can drop off food when they attend church, which goes into cart"backstock."We also request monetary donations to a dedicated fund to stock and maintain the cart. In addition to food, we need other "maintenance-type" items like trash bags and paper towels.
Another issue we deal with is what types of food to place in the outdoor pantry based on seasonal temperature. Although we make every attempt to keep spoilage to a minimum, some produce does go bad in the summer and some canned items have frozen and burst in the winter.
Funded by Cass Clay (November 2021)