L.E.A.D. Athens Project Brings the Little Free Pantry to Athens March 16th

Staff Report From Athens CEO

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce program, L.E.A.D. Athens, opens its very first Little Free Pantry on Thursday, March 16, allowing people in Athens to share surplus food and personal care items to individuals in need. This project is part of the year-long leadership program and organized by Rosa Arroyo Driggers, Denise Plemmons, Melvin Robinson, and April Williams.

Athens’ Little Free Pantry will offer everyday items, including nonperishable foods and other personal care items, like toothpaste, detergent or paper towels, in a small, compact pantry located in a spot in the Athens community. The first pantry will be located just outside of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce on Hancock Ave.

“The Little Free Pantry will provide food and other goods to families in our community that are living in poverty,” said Denise Plemmons, Program Support Analyst for the Athens-Clarke Country Economic Development Department, who leads the Little Free Pantry initiative. “It also gives people in the local community neighborhoods, who want to donate, the chance to give to their neighbors in need. Overall, the goal is to reduce food insecurity in our city and help those in need feel a little more normal with everyday items that most of us take for granted.”  

In high poverty areas, like Athens, the Little Free Pantry is a safety net for those who are not able to meet everyday food and personal needs. In 2015, around 42 percent of the community lived below the poverty level, leaving many families in need without day-to-day household items, including food. Similar to food banks, the Little Free Pantry will help to satisfy that need. But unlike food banks that have restrictive hours these pantries can be accessed 24/7.  They also offer anonymity which can help diminish the shame associated with asking for help.

More than 50 communities across the country have experienced success with their Little Free Pantries. “We’re very excited to bring this concept to Athens. This pantry will be the first of many, and we encourage everyone to make contributions,” said Plemmons. “Take what you need, leave what you can. The Little Free Pantry is simply neighbors helping neighbors.”  

This project would not be possible without the support of our business community. Inglett & Stubbs, Brasfield & Gorrie, and DPR Construction, some of the construction firms who just completed work on the University of Georgia Indoor Football Facility, have offered their support by building the pantries. They, along with University of Georgia Athletic Department, HW Creative Marketing, The Sign Brothers, and Georgia Power, have also sponsored this project.

The community is invited to attend the ribbon cutting of the first Little Free Pantry, which will be installed at the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce located at 246 W Hancock Ave, Athens, GA 30601 on March 16 at 4:15 p.m. The community is asked to bring nonperishable food and personal care items to place in the pantry.