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Drake Neighborhood Little Free Pantries

The Drake Neighborhood Little Free Pantry Project began with the awarding of a $10,000 Wellmark Foundation Community Kickstarter grant in November of 2016. During the Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters of 2017, Drake LEAD students (Leadership, Education, and Development) researched how to make this project a reality, and installed three Little Free Pantries on Drake's Campus and collaborated with seven other groups in the Drake Neighborhood to host a pantry. 

The motto of the pantries, modeled after the Little Free Pantry program launched in Fayetteville, Ark., during summer 2016, is "Take what you need, leave what you can."

Pantry Locations:
The pantries on Drake's campus are located in the Olmsted Parking lot and at the Sprout Garden on Carpenter and 30th. For a full list of pantries, visit the Facebook page

Want to Donate?
Non-perishable goods and hygiene products can be left in the pantries. Produce should only be left if there is an external basket for produce outside of the pantry, such as at the Sprout Garden or you think it is shelf-stable for up to a few days. Any homemade goods, unsealed items, or refrigerated products should not be placed in the pantries. As you consider donations,  prioritize healthy foods (beans, brown rice, oatmeal, canned tuna, etc.), and consider culturally inclusive food that would appeal to the diversity of our campus and neighborhood, including our refugee and immigrant populations, such as dried rice, beans and lentils. Consider shopping at nearby stores such as Hilal Groceries, Ibrahim Grocery, C-Fresh Market, United Marketand La Tapatia Grocery to diversify the offerings at the pantries. It is a not a bad idea to ask the employees at these stores for suggestions of items to purchase and place in the pantries. 

Get Involved:
Would your student organization, academic department, or unit like to "adopt" one of the pantries for a week? Reach out to  

Join the initiative by following the project’s Facebook page: Little Pantries–Drake Neighborhood. The page will allow community members to stay up to date on the installation progress and what needs to be done to help keep the pantries stocked and successful.

Why is this a need?

Much of the Drake Neighborhood resides in a food desert - a USDA classification for an urban area where it is difficult to buy affordable or high-quality fresh food. Approximately 15% of families in the neighborhood receive Supplemental Nutrition (SNAP) benefits. A local food pantry operated by the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) invites visitors three visits every 30 days. Having a little free pantry located within walking distance could help fill the gap between SNAP assistance and DMARC pantry visits. 



Other Nearby Food Resources:

  • Drake Area Food Pantry (a DMARC Food Pantry) - 3226 University Ave.
  • Hope + Elim Church, 2500 University, serves hot meals Wednesdays from 5-6pm. No ID needed - drive through for a hot meal and non-perishable goods. 
  • Sprout: The Des Moines Urban Youth Learning Garden - people who volunteer with the Sprout Garden or participate in programming are welcome to take home produce from the garden. Surplus produce is placed in a little free pantry adjacent to the garden. (Located at Carpenter and 30th Street). 
  • Community Fridges - anyone is welcome to leave or take food; no restrictions. Nearby locations include the Community Youth Concepts Community Fridge at 1446 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, and the Sweet Tooth Community Fridge located at Home Inc., 1618 6th Ave.

Other Basic Needs Resources (Housing, Transportation, Financial Security, Physical & Mental Health, etc.)

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