KOTA Cares: Little Free Pantry; take what you need, leave what you can

Updated: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:45 AM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - According to Feeding South Dakota, nearly 75,000 people in the state are facing food insecurity.

Anyone can be affected by food insecurity, including your neighbors or the kids playing at the park, but some people may fear reaching out for help due to shame or embarrassment.

On this week’s KOTA Cares, we spotlight The Little Free Pantry and how something so small can have such a big impact on the community.

The motto of the Little Free Pantry, which is located on the front lawn of the Open Heart United Methodist Church (202 E Indiana St.) is take what you need and leave what you can.

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, people can anonymously get food items and other necessities.

“It’s a place where people can come, whether they need food or whether they have food to give. And it’s not just for food, people can also bring toiletries, diapers, you know things like that people need. A lot of people like to bring pet food, too, because when you’re struggling to get by your pets are struggling, too,” said Michele Slott, pastor at Open Heart United Methodist Church.

While the original goal of the mini pantry was to help the neighborhood near South Middle School, rising grocery costs have led more people to open the pantry’s doors.

“People are coming more frequently; the need is great,” explained Slott. “We get calls from people who are far outside the neighborhood that are looking for food. And I know that when this was first created, it was created basically for the neighborhood, but I know that people drive in just because they are desperate.”

The Little Free Pantry is filled at least three times a week, but food disappears as quickly as it appears.

To help get the Little Free Pantry to continue to serve the community consider donating nonperishable items or you can make a monetary donation by clicking the link here.