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Free Little Pantry opens up in Cambrian Park for those in need

By Julia Baum, mercurynews.com

3 days ago   Article ID# 4169779
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The Little Free Pantry

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA (mercurynews.com) - A group of San Jose women recently installed a free pantry at the San Jose Clubhouse in Cambrian Park to help residents in need of food and basic items.

The small wooden cabinet was added about six months ago when neighbors Nancy Growchowski, Chris Daly and Karen Clark heard about the idea on Facebook and decided to provide one for their own neighborhood.

Group members say they were looking for an opportunity to help those living paycheck to paycheck when they learned about the Free Little Pantry movement.

“We have a lot of haves and have-nots,” Clark said. “The haves are looking for an opportunity to help the have-nots.”

Even in a wealthy area like Silicon Valley, the group said it’s noticed people dealing with food insecurity.

“There’s definitely vulnerability,” Daly said. “We’re seeing more people living out of cars on a day-to-day basis.”

The Free Little Pantry is part of a national grassroots movement by the same name where communities work to provide needy neighbors with bare necessities. People buy or donate nonperishable food and necessities such as toilet paper, soap or shampoo and simply leave the items in a designated outdoor cupboard. Anyone who needs a meal or other items can then stop by the pantry any time and help themselves. The arrangement makes it convenient for those who can’t take time off work to visit a regular food bank.

Several other people helped get the pantry going, starting with a friend of Clark who generously agreed to make the pantry by hand.

“That was a big part, getting someone who could make our vision come true, and it couldn’t be more perfect,” Growchowski said.

About seven residents have joined forces and now take turns checking the pantry every day to make sure it’s stocked with plenty of goods.

The pantry’s location on the side of the clubhouse makes items accessible and gives beneficiaries a sense of privacy while they visit.

“We wanted to be discreet enough that someone could do so without being noticed, but can still just pull into the parking lot,” Growchowski said.

The women are starting to get more outside help supplying the pantry. Leigh High School’s leadership class now comes out on weekends and is also accepting food donations through June 23 at the campus office. The Campbell Union High School District will also start taking donations at its district office in July.

The women hope more families will learn about the Free Little Pantry and, depending on their circumstances, either use it or help spread the wealth. All they ask is that donors check food items for expiration dates beforehand.

“I don’t just want for people to know they can donate food; I want them to know they can get food,” Clark said.

Copyright 2017 mercurynews.com   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 3 days ago   Article ID# 4169779

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