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." People are welcome to take or leave non-perishable food items and personal hygiene items. Any produce, homemade goods, unsealed items, or refrigerated products should not be placed in the pantries. The pantries on Drake's campus are located in the Olmsted Parking lot and on the corner of Forest and 24th St. at the Sprout Garden.
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.
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.