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East End News

Free Little Pantry – As Seen in Church Hill!

Back in May, we saw this little guy while out and about in the neighborhood. It currently sits by the Montessori school on Jefferson Avenue. We posted a quick pic on Instagram then and there was a lot of interest so we thought we would share with the rest of the class. From the Little Free Pantry Frequently Asked Questions page:
What is The Little Free Pantry Project? The LFP is for neighbors helping neighbors. In high poverty areas, the LFP is most often for those who are not easily able to meet everyday food and personal needs. In middle class neighborhoods, the LFP might stock after-school snacks for neighborhood kids or that “cup of sugar” you never have when you need it. (In my case it’s an onion.) In all places, the Little Free Pantry is for those who want and/or need to give. How does the Little Free Pantry differ from other food pantries? 
  • The LFP is small, so it cannot stock the quantity and variety other food pantries can. For this reason, it should not be relied on for meeting pervasive need.
  • Many food pantries require application before use and have set hours of operation. Anyone may access the LFP at any time.
  • Food pantries operate as service providers, those who use them as clients. The LFP dissolves that professional boundary. Whether stocking or taking stock, everyone approaches the LFP the same way, mediating the shame that accompanies need.
  • Food pantries are critical in addressing food insecurity. But some fall through the cracks. The LFP is a safety net.
  • The LFP is a proving ground, testing concepts like community, charity, justice, and sharing economy.
How do I start my own Little Free Pantry? Location, location, location! How do I determine location? All of the following should be considered in determining location.
  • Safety first! Your location should not place anyone in an unsafe place, whether in an area of high crime or high traffic.
  • Second, determine whether private property or public property best suits your vision. Follow appropriate channels to obtain permission and/or a permit and choose a back-up location in the event your request is denied.
  • Third, determine whether neighbors will be supportive of the project. Will increased traffic to the site be viewed as nuisance or invasion of privacy.
  • Finally, Little Free Pantries should be accessible to the public. If in an area where people travel by car, sites should be safely accessible by car with no impact on local traffic.
How do I build a Little Free Pantry? Feel free to replicate the original design. Or build a structure suited to your aesthetic preference and needs. Googling “Little Free Library plans” yields lots of content, including specs. If your LFP will be on another’s property, share your plans with the property owner for his or her approval. Then, get crafty! How do I secure the Little Free Pantry? The original LFP is secured to a 4×4 with a 4×4 bolt down, which can be purchased at any chain home improvement or hardware store. The 4×4 is cemented in place. How do I stock the Little Free Pantry? The original LFP is stocked organically. Those who wish to contribute may do so at their discretion when convenient. Demand outpaces supply, so the LFP is often empty. However, empty shelves are problematic only if no one is contributing. At that point, you might want to organize a group of friends, neighbors, co-workers, church-goers. Thirty of these could be assigned a day of the month to contribute, for example. Please note that irregular supply is an effective control keeping both consumption and traffic manageable. Irregular supply minimizes loitering as well. What do I stock? Encourage your contributors to stock according to need. Discourage sharps (razors), chemicals, previously worn clothing (which adds bulk), or anything illegal. Generally, canned vegetables and proteins, personal care items, and paper goods go fast. Kid-friendly non-perishables, crayons, and inexpensive party favor items are great for Summer…school supplies for August! If your stock does not turn over frequently, monitor cans for bulging and leaking, especially during extreme temperatures. Also, if your LFP will be stocked organically, you won’t always be able to control what’s inside. However, a daily site visit will allow you to maintain a safe, neat space. What if I can’t stock food? This question was asked by someone who lives in a city with an ordinance prohibiting feeding the homeless. Let that sink in. Moving on. Personal care items, paper goods, etc. are not food. Will I be allowed to duplicate The Little Free Pantry project where I live? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Municipal building codes and zoning laws vary from location to location. Follow appropriate channels to obtain permission and/or a permit if necessary. Also, neighborhood support for the project prior to implementation and a good location will help avoid complaint. What if someone gets sick? Or gets a splinter? 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.
[sep] So what do you think neighbors? Let’s get some locations in the comments and get some of these out in the community. We can start a group and build it together!   Little Free Pantry. (Picture by Tess Dixon)

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25 comments

EastEnder 08/17/2018 at 4:42 PM

The pantry was created by an awesome Central Montessori family!

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Bill Hartsock 08/17/2018 at 8:10 PM

I think is a great idea. The location is in the afternoon sun so I wonder if the heat is going to have an effect on whatever is in the box. I worry about a health issue.

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Tula's mom 08/17/2018 at 8:27 PM

I love love love this idea!!! I will be in Richmond on Tuesday I would love to add to the pantry! I think I even know where it is..yay!!!!

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Kfo 08/18/2018 at 9:08 AM

I agree about the sun issue Bill – particularly during the summer – anybody have a beach umbrella that could be strapped to the box?

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crd 08/18/2018 at 10:24 AM

I love the idea, and agree about the beach umbrella. Will try to find one.

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crd 08/18/2018 at 12:56 PM

I have located a used beach umbrella, but it has no stand. And the reason it was abandoned was that someone left it up on their porch and it blew down in a storm. So I’m not sure that’s a good idea – someone would have to constantly put it up or down, plus this isn’t o our pantry – I’m assuming it belongs to the Montessori school? If we just march in with a beach umbrella and strap it on, and it blows off in a storm, what happens then?

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jean Mcdaniel 08/19/2018 at 8:01 AM

I have a large beach umbrella I would be happy to donate. Someone would need to ensure that it is securely installed.

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Will Machin 08/19/2018 at 4:44 PM

We are so happy to see the response to our school’s LFP, a volunteer parent built and conceived idea!

Jean that’s a generous offer— I have to run this idea by some folks at the school, but it sounds like it’s worth a try!

Can you please reach out to me directly?
CHPN, can you give Jean my email address? Is that doable?

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Brad Shupp
Brad Shupp 08/19/2018 at 6:40 PM

I can see the lawsuit the second someone get sick from an expired product or dented can.

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jean Mcdaniel 08/19/2018 at 10:08 PM

CHPN, Do you know who “owns” the LFP? Please post it here and I will make contact concerning a suitable shade.

Sometimes you have to ignore ‘liability’ in order to get anything done. The little free library I sponsor at 27th and East Broad was ripped on CHPN for not having a building permit, being on public property, having it’s contents curiated by me, etc., etc.!! It has been there now for over five years and hasn’t caused one dire prediction yet.

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Johnathan 08/20/2018 at 1:42 PM

I don’t support this project and encouraging homeless to congregate around. There are plenty of tax dollars being wasted feeding and caring for people who should be made into Soylent Green.

but if you are going to do such a project, know what you are doing. According the the USDA:

“High temperatures (over 100 °F) are harmful to canned goods. The risk of spoilage jumps sharply as storage temperatures rise. In fact, canned goods designed for use in the tropics are specially manufactured.

Store canned foods and other shelf stable products in a cool, dry place. Never put them above or beside the stove, under the sink, in a damp garage or basement, or any place exposed to high or low temperature extremes. Temperatures below 85 °F are best. Check your pantry every few weeks and use canned goods you have had on hand for awhile. Don’t purchase bulging, rusted, leaking, or deeply dented cans.”

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/shelf-stable-food-safety/ct_index

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Kfo 08/20/2018 at 5:08 PM

I spoke to a lovely woman at the school today – she indicated that the school and the parents were still discussing whether an umbrella (or something else) was the best idea for addressing the heat/sun issue – hopefully they’ll post the decision in CHPN

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SueWho 08/20/2018 at 7:23 PM

As admirable as this endeavor is, please donate canned food. I walked by there yesterday and a glass bottle of bbq sauce was broken, sauce everywhere, and the bottom door was ajar (no pun intended).

If the doors don’t shut because of larger boxes of cereal, etc., spilled sauce will attract ants and other bugs, or boxed items will get wet during rainstorms; direct sunlight is also problematic. I didn’t have anything with me to clean up the thick, sticky mess that was left there as I was headed to Jefferson Park to exercise.

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Johnathan 08/21/2018 at 8:26 AM

This says so much about the recklessness of this project, “Sometimes you have to ignore ‘liability’ in order to get anything done”.

All well and good until some gets sick or dies from ones actions and lose your house and/or go to jail paying for a defense attorney and/or the damages that were caused. This is not even considering the attractive nuisance being created by this activity.

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jean Mcdaniel 08/21/2018 at 1:03 PM

Jonathan @ 11 and !4
I suspect that your real objection to this effort is not a concern on your part for liability. I believe you state very clearly what your concern is, i.e.:

1 encouraging homeless to congregrate and
2 attractive nuisance being created by “this activity”

As I said in my post, there were some VERY NEGATIVE comments about the LFL and me personally. Since I believe that one should not post what is untrue and should take ownership of what you do post. I choose to use my real name on this blog. For those unfortunate few that feel that this gives them carte blanche to attack me, so be it. This was the liability to which I was referring.

I do not believe that the risk of someone being killed from an out of date box of pasta should overrule teaching children that sharing and kindness and being non judgemental is a good thing.

It is clear that there are adults that are involved with this project and I suggest that you relax and trust their judgement.

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Timber 08/21/2018 at 4:29 PM

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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Church Hill People
Church Hill People's News 08/21/2018 at 5:10 PM

There are good samaritan laws that protect things exactly like this. http://www.foodtodonate.com/Fdcmain/LegalLiabilities.aspx

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Jacob C. 08/21/2018 at 5:12 PM

Hi #14 – There is Federal Good Samaritan Law that specifically protects people who donate food items.

http://www.foodtodonate.com/Fdcmain/LegalLiabilities.aspx

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jean Mcdaniel 08/21/2018 at 6:03 PM

I would like to point out that I am 12 years past my expiration date (according to the experts) , and I haven’t killed anybody yet.

I have considered it though.

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Johnathan 08/22/2018 at 9:09 AM

I never tried to hide my objection to the project. I made it very clear that I do not like tax dollars being spent on people that would serve a better purpose being turned into soylent green. This project reminds me of what my grandma use to tell me, “When you feed stray dogs they will keep coming around”.

For those of you that want to participate, all I suggested was to be aware of the liabilities. Good Samaritan law not withstanding, you still have to raise that defense in court if you are sued.

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Bill Hartsock 08/22/2018 at 12:21 PM

We have gotten way past my simple suggestion that the afternoon sun may affect the quality of the products placed in the Pantry. Let’s get back to basics. An umbrella may not be the answer for the heat, but moving it to a shady location up the street may work better. Also, the product selection should be limited to dry goods and hygiene products until the fall weather cools things down. This is a helpful service but we should be careful of quality control until we know what will be of the most beneficial to the neighbors.

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Alan Sipowitz 08/22/2018 at 5:27 PM

Johnathan – First, there are no tax dollars being used for this whatsoever that I can see. Its a volunteer pantry. Second, and far more importantly, the idea that the homeless should be killed is deplorable and you are a terrible person. Third, no matter how many times you use that “turned into soylent green” line, it will remain neither funny nor clever.

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jean mcdaniel 08/22/2018 at 6:09 PM

Alan, good points and ‘solyent green ‘ is SO old!

Jonathan, My Grandma gave me some good advice too.
Never get into an intellectual duel with an unarmed opponent!
I sincerely hope you never need any help or assistance in your life because I suspect it would not be offered to you.

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Allie Ludeman Hake
Allie Ludeman Hake 08/22/2018 at 10:47 PM

Wood Slangers Inc. can help build these if anyone is interested in having one made!

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Eric S. Huffstutler 08/25/2018 at 1:27 PM

Johnathan, I thought I was the local curmudgeon but think you have me beat with this discussion. Even the thought, kidding or not, to dispose of the homeless and the elderly is deplorable. True, there are way too many on our streets. True, there are a few scammers out there. But, there are others who are victims of the system. Unable to work due to medical or mental reasons and unable to afford insurance to get the help needed to be able to work. Any one of us could be in their shoes, including me.

As far as an umbrella… it would most likely be torn apart or blown away with the first storm and could be a visual problem with traffic?

My concern is two-fold… that the honor system is being used and what is placed in the pantry is being used by the needy and not the greedy. And that tainted food is not being distributed.

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