Volunteers unveil new ‘little free pantry’

Provided photo The back of the Wadsworth Library at 24 Center Street in Geneseo is now home to “The Little Free Pantry.” 24 hours a day the pantry will offer non-perishable food and other items such as toothpaste, toilet paper, etc. to anyone in need.

GENESEO - The new Little Free Pantry in Geneseo is offering some big help to those in need of food assistance.

“The motto of Little Free Pantry is ‘Take what you need and leave what you can,’” said volunteer Deb Allen.

The wooden box where people can do that is located in the back of the Wadsworth Library ay 24 Center St. It is all run by volunteers and will be serving up all kinds of non-perishable foods to people who need them.

“One of the nice things about the food pantry is that it is very grass roots and just a community effort,” said Allen. “Anyone who wants to donate can leave something and anyone who needs something can come anytime.”

Geneseo’s Little Free Pantry is a volunteer project that is led by Allen. It was installed in memory of her daughter, Claire Allen, a Geneseo Central School student who was killed while running during cross-country practice in 2017.

Funding for the construction of the pantry comes from money donated for another effort in Claire’s name, Claire’s Closet, which in past years has offered gently used prom dresses to area girls.

The pantry includes things such as food, bar soap, shampoo, toilet paper or pretty much anything that someone might need help with. For safety reasons, the two things the pantry does not accept are glass objects or disposable razors.

“It is not meant to replace a large food pantry. The advantages are is that it is accessible 24 hours a day and it is anonymous,” said Allen. “If someone is feeling reluctant about going to a food pantry in person, they can come to something like this and even come at 2 a.m.”

Unlike some food pantries, Allen said people can use this one as much as they want and there is no application process.

“Food pantries often have a formal application process, which is fine. Sometimes they have limits where you can only go once or twice a month, which is fine,” she said. “Sometimes there might be a sudden need that might arise, maybe someone got their wallet stolen and they are stuck for a day or two with nothing.”

Those who use the pantry also aren’t required to give anything back if they take something.

“Someone might take something and if they are not able to put something back, that is fine,” Allen said. “It is just based on whatever someone needs at that moment.”

As those needs have been growing, the need for Little Free Pantries has also increased. The first was created in 2016. Now, there are more than 1,500 pantries in six countries.

“It is all run by volunteers and they have agreed to stop by once a month to check on it just to make sure that the latch is not broken or if there is garbage on the ground,” said Allen of Geneseo’s new pantry. “It is really open to anyone who wants to take something or leave something. It is very informal and casually structured, so that it fills whatever need is there.”

For more information about the Geneseo Free Pantry, send an email to GeneseoLFP@gmail.com.

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