Franklin’s Free Little Pantry Idea Spreading to Other Areas

Last year members of the Franklin community came together behind a small project with far reaching potential – the Free Little Pantry located at Appalachian Ace on West Palmer Street. Since the Free Little Pantry was opened, it has been giving those who need a little extra help the opportunity to take something they need such as non-perishable food items, personal hygiene products and home care items.

The idea has been so well received in Franklin, the idea has now spread to Sylva with the second Little Free Pantry opening in Sylva in downtown Sylva in front of Lifeway Community Church. In addition, there has been interest in installing additional pantries in other areas of western North Carolina including Bryson City and Robinsville as well as Rabun, Georgia.

Franklin’s Little Free Pantry was built by Robert DiTomasso and Jonathan Snyder in collaboration with John and Cortney Patrick, owners of Appalachian Ace Hardware. Sylva’s Little Free Pantry was built by Macon County residents Timothy Crabtree and Adam Drake who volunteered to build the pantry and donate all the wood needed for the project. Chris and Amanda Shaw, also Macon County residents, donated an auger to help dig the four-foot hole to hold the post where the little pantry is located. Emily Moss, who lives in Sylva but works in Franklin, volunteered her artistic talents to paint the pantry.

The Little Free Pantry utilizes a familiar, compelling concept to pique local interest in and action against local food insecurity. The Little Free Pantry offers a place around which neighbors might coalesce to meet neighborhood needs, whether for food or for fun. The Little Free Pantry is a grassroots, crowd-sourced solution to immediate and local need. Whether a need for food or a need to give, the Little Free Pantry facilitates neighbors helping neighbors, building community. The idea behind the project is that one single Little Free Pantry in a community is little, but together lots of little free pantries might be big.

According to Feeding America: Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics, in 2015 42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 children. The Little Free Pantry project began in May 2016 as one way to help those in food insecure households.

The communities of Franklin and Sylva are encouraged to share items with both Little Free Pantries to help those in need. Canned goods, non-perishable foods, personal hygiene items, small household needs like soaps and washes are some suggested options that can be donated to keep the pantries up and running.