The Little Free Food Pantry: An Update
Emily Cobourn, Karine Nguyen

Whether you have been at SDS since 4K or only for a few months, at some point you’ve probably heard of the Free Food Pantry. So, what’s all the hype about? 

Located near First Presbyterian Church on East Kennedy Street, the Food Pantry is a student-led initiative (in the form of a wooden box!) that provides food and hygiene items for the homeless. These items are collected through food drives and donations from the community, and the pantry is filled daily by students at SDS or members of First Presbyterian Church. Started by Anne Dobson Ball (’19) nearly three years ago, the pantry has grown significantly in its impact and has become a vital part of our community. With the help of Ellie Toler (’20), Grace Kleman (’20), and Susi Wright (’21), as well as the support and guidance of Mrs. Phillips and other adults, Anne Dobson was able to bring her vision of what all the pantry should be to life.

Now we, along with Paige VanGeison (’22), have assumed the roles of taking charge in leading the pantry. Recently, Ellie Toler has been receiving updates on the pantry and mentioned, “I am so happy to see that the food pantry is thriving under the leadership of Karine, Emily, and Paige. The pantry was such a rewarding project because I was able to work towards a common goal with friends from SDS while gaining insight into the social and economic disparities within our community.” Since we have taken over the pantry, we have felt the same rewarding experience as Ellie, and are so excited to have the opportunity to continue it for the next few years. 

However, running the pantry hasn’t been easy since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and unexpected issues have arisen like conflicts between people over food and other items in the pantry. Fortunately, we have found ways to persist despite the difficulties. Running the pantry during the pandemic has taught us that communication is key in maintaining this tradition, and thinking outside the box to come up with alternative solutions is necessary in times like these. For example, instead of holding our annual drive as a way to get donations, we recently had a dress down day and charged $5 for each person who decided to dress down. With this, we were able to raise over $375!

The pantry has brought our community together for a great cause and the initiative has even spread across divisions. Fourth-grader Wren Gaines-Phillips has a heartfelt passion for helping those in need and stops by the pantry weekly to make sure it is stocked and being cared for. Back in September, Wren sent out an email to her neighbors encouraging them to go out and buy items that would be beneficial to the pantry. She was able to get a ton of donations by reaching out to her community. Thank you, Wren! You are a superstar!! 

Lastly, if you ever have any food, sanitary items, or anything in general you think would be beneficial to the pantry, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the emails below or stop by the pantry yourself! As Dr. Weatherill has stated, “In a time when traditions are in flux, this one is worth continuing.” 

For more information, contact: