Little Free Pantry in Greenport to help those in need

Greenport’s first Little Free Pantry will be “planted” at the end of the month, thanks to resident Penelope Rudder.

Little Free Pantries are similar to the Little Free Libraries seen throughout Southold Town. Residents will be able to take nonperishable food items, toiletries, feminine products and other household goods from it and donate to it as well. Where it will be located has not been announced.

Ms. Rudder has a background in food and nutrition and when she read about the idea of a little pantry, she knew it was the perfect project for her.

“I’m very interested in food security and food justice and community involvement,” she said. “Food is a language that can be very unifying. Offering to cook for someone, for example, that’s a way to show someone you care for them, and leaving food available 24/7 is a way for a community to care for its members.”

The pantry will not be refrigerated and people will be encouraged to donate items throughout the year. Ms. Rudder hopes the turnover will be quick enough to offer a few fresh items in the summer, like potatoes. She also hopes high-quality proteins and other healthy foods will be donated to help promote healthier eating habits.

“There will also be a little section in our pantry called the Children’s Pantry, so they are also in the spirit of the give-and-take of the community,” said Ms. Rudder.

Ms. Rudder will be stocking the first Little Free Pantry herself and will check on it regularly to make sure it’s full and in good condition. No funds were raised to build or stock it, she said. She’s also planning a celebration for when it’s unveiled in late April.

“The thing about hunger is that it’s really tricky,” she said. “It’s anonymous. We can’t make assumptions of who is hungry.”

Ms. Rudder brought the idea of a Little Free Pantry to the Greenport Village Board of Trustees and said they were very responsive to it.

“It’s meant to create the sense that we are a community that helps our community members,” Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said. “If you need a helping hand, maybe at midnight and no stores are open, this is here for you to come take and then one day bring something back.”

Ms. Rudder added that she would be open to people contacting her who would like to see one of these pop up in their neighborhood. She has high hopes it will spread across the North Fork and beyond.

Her neighbor and former Greenport mayor, David Nyce, has volunteered to build the first pantry.

“I think this project is going to create a whole group of pantry pals, once we get the first one done,” Ms. Rudder said.

Those interested in getting involved with the Little Free Pantry can contact Ms. Rudder at [email protected].

“Being done by neighbors for neighbors, this will all be each other’s,” she said.

Top photo caption: The pantries that will feature nonperishable food and other items are modeled after the Little Free Libraries such as this one at McCabe’s Beach in Southold. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)

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