Most people have heard about the Little Free Library movement sweeping across the nation. Allison Hagen, Chair of the Friends of the Hammond Community Library, hopes to piggyback on the Little Free Library while helping the Hammond community with a Little Free Pantry (LFP).
"Librarian Michelle Johnson and I saw the need. The library is where you go to feel safe and get help with so many other life needs/wants it made sense to start up our own collection of food/dry goods inside the library, but didn't advertise it because we didn't know how well it would work. So far it has had really good turnover," Hagen said.
The Free Little Pantry is a movement similar to the Free Little Library and was started in 2016 by a woman in Fayetteville, Ark.
"The Little Free Pantry is a bridge to help people in need, to help with an immediate need as well as share produce with anyone," Hagen said. "This is 100 percent community participation. Meaning our community members stock the pantry when they can. 'Take what you need, Leave what you can.'"
The pantry will be open to anyone, anytime, with the first pantry being placed near the entrance of the library and the second being placed inside the village hall entrance way.
"The next thing that 'sealed the deal' of wanting to make the actual LFP available to the entire village of Hammond 24/7 was when I was contacted by a resident of Hammond through my posts on The Friends of the Hammond Community Library Facebook page of my own Little Free Library," Hagen said. "She said there is definitely a need for it in Hammond since we don't have an actual food shelf in town and sometimes it is hard for some to travel to get to Roberts."
The Hammond Village Board approved the two pantries' locations at its April 24 regular meeting.
The two LFP are being built and donated to The Friends of the Hammond Community Library by Bethany and Bob Gontarek. The Friends will monitor and maintain the pantries, Hagen said.
"The rules for the pantry so far are: Take what you need, leave what you can. Food must be prepackaged. Produce welcome. Just like all food pantries you can't donate expired food," Hagen said. "The pantries have not been built yet, they are being donated so as of today there isn't a time frame. I am hoping to have them up and running by mid-June. There are several LFP's in surrounding communities including one in New Richmond."
For more information on the Little Free Pantry, visit littlefreepantry.org.
Hagen is working to find another Little Free Library location in Hammond.
"I feel like the first LFL has been so successful because I have fun with it. I do theme weeks for holidays. I have a few more themes set up for this summer. July is Comic Month I can't wait for this one. I have been collecting comic book/fantasy novels," Hagen said. "It isn't all about the themes though. I keep it fresh. I rotate books. I have a huge dresser full of books at my home. My parents Mona and Tom Johnson read a lot of books and have now found a place to donate them all, too."
Hagen's father built the new LFL for her family, and she is hoping it will be placed near the village hall.
"Our family has also donated a LFL in memory of family friend Nancy Hanson. This library will be installed by the end of May at Dadez Physical Therapy in New Richmond," Hagen said.