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Neighbors helping neighbors: Little Free Pantry initiative soon to launch in Kohala

April 18, 2017 - 1:00am

KOHALA — “Take what you need, leave what you can” is the mantra of a new nationwide movement soon to be kicked off in Kohala.

The small-scale effort — known simply as the Little Free Pantry — allows anyone to deposit food, toiletries and personal goods into a wooden structure in town, anytime. The movement is a solution for local food insecurity that is easily accessible to the public.

Without any direct interaction, the pantries can mediate shame that needy people sometimes feel.

Kohala resident Lani Bowman learned about Little Free Pantry recently on NPR. She and other members of the St. Augustine, Solid Rock North and Kohala Baptist churches, and Tutu &Me Home Visiting Program, joined forces several weeks ago to brainstorm on launching the program in their own community.

Their plan is to build two small pantry structures mounted on 4x4 posts and set them up in easily accessible locations in Kapaau and Hawi. Volunteers will help with their upkeep.

“We hope to have them up and running in the next month,” said Bowman, who is a deacon with Kapaau’s Episcopal church and a home visitor with Tutu &Me. “There is a door on the front but no lock. Anyone can take what they need or donate goods 24-7. There are no forms to fill out.”

The original pantry was conceptualized and piloted by Jessica McClard of Fayetteville, Arkansas last May. It has since been rolled out in other small towns in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, all coined as Little Free Pantry.

The groups who have created the pantries thus far are mostly comprised of churches, organizations and individuals who want to help those in need.

“We’ve asked for church members and residents to help build the structures and supplies,” Bowman said. “The new service will supplement the on-going Sacred Heart Food Pantry, as a safety net for those who fall through the cracks.”

For info, to volunteer or donate: Call Sadie at 889-6298, Lani at 895-5753, Lisa at 896-3354, or Kyler at 345-3585

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