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A volunteer effort in Brentwood Darlington is helping to feed neighbors who could use the assistance

DAVID F. ASHTON - The signs on the table make the purpose of the two Unofficial Brentwood-Darlington Pop-up Pantry locations clear, in several languages: Free Food. Simultaneous Wednesday afternoon outdoor food pantries have appeared in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood.

These are not an official project of the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association – but, rather, they're a personal project of the neighborhood's Chair, Chelsea Powers, and another neighbor, Kristin Sassano, who lives 18 blocks away.

"We're calling these the 'Unofficial Brentwood-Darlington Pop-up Pantries' – something that I started by accident," Powers told THE BEE amid assisting neighbors in picking up needed food in front of her home, across the street from Lane Middle School.

Some time ago, Powers said, she started volunteering with the Woodmere Food Impact Northwest Pantry (as reported in the May, 2020, issue of THE BEE) to distribute food at the Brentwood-Darlington Community Center.

"I picked up surplus bread donated by Grand Central Bakery for their pantry," Power recounted. "To not discard the remaining bread that the pantry hadn't given away during the summer, I decided to set up a folding table in my front yard, and let folks know via Facebook that it was available.

"But, after about three weeks, like most of my volunteer projects, it evolved from there into being more than just bread, because our neighbors who lack food security are really in need of things that you can't get in a food pantry – like eggs, and fresh produce."

Because Rinella Produce gave them low prices, and delivered, the pop-up pantry was able to also provide fresh eggs, potatoes, and carrots for local residents in need.

During mid-July her pantry also offered greens and peppers, tons of squash from neighbors' gardens, and apples from the Brentwood-Darlington Orchard in the Learning Gardens Lab.

This project so far has been sustained by neighbors contributing from their gardens, their kitchens, or their wallets," Powers told THE BEE.

After collaborating with Powers, a few weeks after she expanded her pop-up pantry, Kristin Sassano opened her own companion outdoor pantry in the driveway of her home near S.E. 78th Avenue and Ogden Street.

"I'm sourcing items with Chelsea, and also from other places, including from people bringing in things they've grown in their gardens, to offer items that help people stretch meals a little bit farther," Sassano said. "Today, someone went to Costco and asked if they could buy something and bring it, to help!"

Their effort shows that feeding hungry people doesn't take a large organization, government grants, or a substantial payroll. All it takes is neighbors with big hearts, like Chelsea and Kristin, and those who are contributing to their "pop-up pantries".


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