They're not just for books anymore -- in Westmoreland, it's a new 'little free food pantry' at Moreland Presbyterian

RITA A. LEONARD - Pastor Brian Marsh spoke at April 3 opening of the new Little Free Food Pantry at Moreland Presbyterian Church, along with the Junior Girl Scouts of Troop #10631. On Sunday, April 3rd, Junior Girl Scout Troop #10631 celebrated the opening of their new community project – a "Little Free Food Pantry" – at Moreland Presbyterian Church, S.E. at Bybee Boulevard in Westmoreland. The girls gathered there with their leaders and members of the community to fill the shelves. Pastor Brian Marsh and the girls made a few remarks, then hosted a small reception with coffee and cookies.

The award-winning project joins many other styles of Little Free Food Pantries in Inner Southeast – some with Little Free Refrigerators, umbrella-covered stands, or tent-like structures. During these times, it's heartening to see the community support those less fortunate.

Twelve Troop members under the leadership of Casie Dunning as well as Shelly Coffman, Kjiersten Whittington, and Kelly Betteridge, participated in this project. The Junior Girls Scouts are all fifth graders in local schools, and each will receive a Girl Scout Bronze Award – one of the highest awards in Girl Scouting. The project helps the girls understand their own power, as they make a positive and lasting change in their communities.

Scout leaders encouraged the girls to create and deliver neighborhood fliers to advertise the new Westmoreland food pantry. The girls are still seeking more appropriate food and healthcare items for the community pantry, and a list of hoped-for items is posted at the site.

The Scouts had already received enough donated food items and other supplies to fill the two shelves of the small roofed structure which had been constructed and painted earlier in the year. Each girl will help sort the donations and monitor the pantry for unsafe or expired items. They have posted guidelines for, "Giving what you can; taking what you need".

Dunning told THE BEE, "We'd like to thank local General Contractor Jeff McCoy, who volunteered to build the structure. The scouts painted it in early March. The 40" x 38" size mini-pantry is made of wood with siding, and has two doors, two shelves, and a shingled roof. We'd also like to thank Pastor Brian Marsh and Moreland Presbyterian Church for their partnership and support."

As for some of the other "Little Free Food Pantries" in Southeast, in Woodstock there's one constructed of yellow plastic recyclable glass bottle bins, stacked atop each other by the side of the road. Others feature shelved distribution centers that include toys as well as food. In Brentwood-Darlington, one located behind Lane Middle School replaces a smaller version formerly placed in front of the building. In Brooklyn, folks have placed bags of potatoes, beans, macaroni, and rice on park benches or stone walls, for transients to pick up. Brooklyn also hosts events to gather donations for the "Groceries for Grout" food pantry.

Members of Junior Troop #10631 include Bea Bebetteridge-Hall, Bryn Pucik, Callie Erovick, Frances Penn, Sasha Gordon, Piper Gordon, Maggie McCoy, June Dunning, Naomi Eshel, Dell Whittington, Lela Whitehead, and Hazel Nhem.

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