Reflections on the Free for All Pantry Nov 20, 2020

I often sit out on my porch that faces Tuckaseegee Road. There’s plenty to see day to day, but one thing that I often note is the relationship between the neighborhood and this little red food pantry that sits on our property, right up against the sidewalk. Since its installation this summer, here are some of the happenings I’ve observed.

I will often see one particular neighbor come through, grabbing an armload of food and carrying it down the street to friends that he knows who are disabled. I have heard children asking their parents about different vegetables that they see on the local produce table that sits beside the pantry, and what they could make with the items that are available. I have watched people in a moment of scarcity grab as much as they could, and then turn back and return several items. Eliminating a middleman gives people the opportunity to be honest about their needs. Still, I’ve noticed that it takes less than 24 hours for the pantry to go from full to empty.

Even more exciting to me than the way that the food is received is the way that the pantry is stocked. I have seen people I have never met before pull up and start loading food into the pantry. They will wave at me and drive away, seeking no recognition or reward. I have spoken with a neighbor who walked up with two or three canned items and said, “I had some extra so I thought I would share.” I have noticed that local organizations around the West Side have started to contribute to it, as well as supporters of QC Family Tree. But, most often, it is the neighborhood itself and people around Freedom Corridor that generally contribute to the pantry.

While discussing our Great Covid Food Pantry Experiment, my roommate Langley said, “It’s so natural for people to take care of each other.” Folks were given a structure that made sharing easy, and they use it. Regularly. It is a system that assumes that people take what they need and share what they have. It’s stocked by the neighborhood and utilized by the neighborhood.

If you would like to contribute to the food pantry, visit 2908 Tuckaseegee Road. No need to call ahead, just load whatever you can spare into the pantry. It will go to good use.