By Elise Spontarelli
Last month I had the pleasure of working with several volunteers to build Lynchburg's first Little Free Pantry. The masterminds behind the project are Kristen O'Neill and Megan Huffman, who heard of a need and came to us at Vector Space for help. Tracey Dixon of Lynchburg Daily Bread had requested a pantry to provide access to food during non-business hours. While the Daily Bread serves lunch 365 days per year, those needing food during other times of the day can now access the free pantry.
Several women volunteered to help, so we started our reseach at LittleFreePantry.org and used plans for a Little Free Library as the starting point for our design. Using 3/4" plywood we spent two evenings cutting the pieces on the tablesaw and then assembling them using wood glue and screws. Next we turned our focus to the door and roof. We added hardware, a vinyl sticker and paint to complete the visual design. We shingled the slanted roof to keep pantry goods dry.
Mounting the pantry provided a challenge as we wanted it to be secure without having to drill into the sidewalk at Lynchburg Daily Bread. A 4" post in a concrete base proved to be sufficiently sturdy.
During the build the News and Advance paid us a visit to learn more about the project. At the opening of the pantry Living in the Heart of Virginia interviewed myself and Tracey Dixon. We started a Facebook page and a group calendar for those interested in stocking the pantry. Within about a week of opening, the pantry had generous volunteers signed up to stock it every day through the end of 2017 (and beyond!). We are so thrilled and appreciative of the community support.
Talks have begun about future pantries in and around Lynchburg. We have had groups and individuals reach out about a need for 24/7 food access in their area and a willingness to help. We look forward to working with the community to build more pantries, and encourage you to make your own. If you've build a Little Free Pantry or a Little Free Library, let us know! I would love to see your project.
To learn more about Lynchburg Free Pantry, visit the Facebook page: facebook.com/LynchburgFreePantry