On Thursday, May 10, community members gathered in Greenport for the dedication ceremony of the village’s first Little Free Pantry, which offers nonperishable foods to anyone who needs it.
The project was spearheaded by North Fork resident Penelope Rudder, who read about the nationwide Little Free Pantry movement earlier this year.
“There has been an outpouring of goodwill and love from Orient all down the North Fork and Shelter Island about the pantry. I thought it would be a wonderful project to initiate here,” she said.
Rudder said this support has been ongoing since she first presented the idea to install a pantry to the Greenport Village Board of Trustees.
The Little Free Pantry pilot project began in May 2016 and offers a place around which neighbors can come together to meet the community’s needs. Rudder said she hopes to see Little Free Pantries become part of school, church, and summer camp projects for children to engage in helping others and spread awareness of food insecurity.
The pantry will not be refrigerated so only non-perishable items may be donated. Rudder herself will stock the first pantry and will check on it regularly.
According to Feeding America’s statistics, in 2015, 42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households. Approximately 13.1 million of them were children.
“Food insecurity and the awareness that it exists in every county of the United States is something I knew I could help lessen when I learned about this project,” Rudder said. “I thought it was the perfect way for neighbors here to give and take and show we care about each other.
David Nyce, former Greenport mayor and Rudder’s neighbor, built the pantry. Rudder said she had asked him to construct it not only because he’s a “talented craftsman,” but she wanted the neighborly element to truly exist in the process.
“I also asked Kara Hoblin to do the artwork. I want our pantry to be a focal point of optimism, hope, and empowerment and her artwork is radiantly all that and more,” Rudder said.
“We cannot make assumptions about anyone’s story, who is hungry and who isn’t. Having neighbors give and take like this creates an openness — 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Rudder.
“Anyone and everyone has a chance to have something to eat available and when possible, give back. There are no boundaries, no questions asked. Come as you are. We are all neighbors in this together.”
Greenport’s Little Free Pantry is located in the parking lot in front of the Opportunity Shop, between Capital One Bank and IGA. Anyone who would like to be involved with the project can contact Rudder at firstname.lastname@example.org.