The combined efforts of a Dairy Flat business, community organisations and an electrician who “just wanted to help” has seen the area’s first free Community Pantry built in Whangaparaoa, making free food easy to access for anyone who needs it.
Little Free Pantries are springing up around the world after an American, Jessica McClard, put up the first one outside her church in North Carolina four months ago.
The pantries are a way to share food with neighbours – anyone can place non-perishable items inside the pantry, which is not locked, and the food is free for anyone to take.
Love Soup’s Julie King posted the Little Free Pantry story online last month, suggesting a local one could be built, and electrician Matt Rutherford immediately agreed to help.
“Love Soup is doing an amazing job helping so many people and the cabinet adds to that community feel,” Matt says.
He contacted a mate, Dan Roigard, owner of DCR Cabinets in Dairy Flat, who agreed to provide all the materials and help design the cabinet. Matt and Dan then spent Father’s Day building the 2.3m long box and installed it at the entrance to Whangaparaoa Hall on September 7. It will eventually have a Perspex front panel so that people can easily see what is inside.
Matt also installed new security lights near the cabinet and Danny Battershill of EarthStone Arts filled it with food to get things started.
Love Soup volunteers are going to keep a close eye on the pantry to make sure it contains suitable items such as cans and packet food.
Food items can be donated by simply placing them in the cabinet, and anyone can take away whatever they need.