Written by Victoria Brahe
In our beautiful mountain community, it’s hard to imagine that some of our neighbors may not be getting enough to eat, but statistically, it is likely. According to Hunger Free Colorado:
- Nearly 1 in 10 Coloradans (10.3%) struggle with hunger, not always having enough money to buy food.
- Nearly 1 in 7 Colorado kids (14%) may not always know when or where they will get their next meal.
- In a room of 50 older adults, 3 of them (5.8%) are facing hunger in Colorado, and forced to make choices between purchasing groceries or medication.
- Nearly 1 in 6 Colorado households with children (16%) report food hardship, an inability to afford adequate food.
One way many communities across the country are choosing to help their neighbors is by building Little Free Pantries. These are based on the Little Free Library concept of “nourishing neighborliness” that stared in Arkansas.
Last year, the ECHPOA Association and the property owner approved a Little Free Pantry to be located adjacent to the bank of mailboxes on Miners Way. The challenge in our neighborhood is bears of course, and many bear-resistant options were considered—all quite costly. Enter Craig’s List where I found this 500# steel cabinet for just $120:
Our grandsons picked up the cabinet and brought it to our patio where it sits until the foundation is complete. Builder Troy Heineman from Burland volunteered to construct the foundation. He poured a 700 # concrete pad which you can see between the mailboxes and the bulletin board. Next, he will lay cinder blocks on top of the pad. The idea is, that cabinet is not going anywhere!
While that is happening, Harris Park artist Jennipher Cunningham volunteered to do some lettering and a bit of painting on the cabinet while it is at our house. Once those things are complete, we will figure out how to get the cabinet to the foundation! True that’s no small thing, but we’ve gotten this far!
Once we get the cabinet up, our ECHPOA pantry will include food and non-food items for both people and pets! We cannot include any fresh food because of the bears. Non-perishable examples include canned/boxed/bottled soup, vegetables, beans, fruit, rice, pasta, baby food, and pet food. Non-food examples include personal care items, paper goods, and cat litter.
The Little Free Pantry motto is, take what you need, leave what you can. The idea here is that neighbors keep the pantry stocked. An easy way to make a contribution is to pick up an extra can of vegetables when they are on sale for example, and drop it off at the pantry when picking up the mail. I will be able to supplement stock somewhat with donations from the Mountain Resource Center and the Rotary Club of Conifer.
I do not have a completion date at this time but will keep you posted here. If you have any questions or comments about the pantry, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you all for support of this project! Everyone has been wonderful, which makes me feel great about living here.