In 2020, in response to the sudden increase in local food-access challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ABFPC began partnering with residents of Asheville neighborhoods, including Shiloh, East End, and Deaverview, to identify strategies for meeting emergency community food needs. One result was the ABFPC’s Outdoor Food Pantry Program, which started with the construction and installation of free-standing, wooden, outdoor pantry units for the East End and Shiloh neighborhoods and later led to a pantry for West Asheville’s Deaverview community, installed in October 2021. Next, a pantry is being planned for the Fairview community at Root Cause Farm, and the program continues to grow.
The pantries, which serve as safe, sturdy, outdoor distribution hubs and infrastructure for mutual aid efforts, are planned and constructed in partnership with neighborhood residents who are paid for their work on the project. Neighborhood residents and organizations take on stocking, maintenance, and upkeep of the pantries so they are self-sustaining.
The program has blossomed and received interest and support from all over the state — there are now plans in the works to begin producing build-your-own-pantry kits with a how-to video that will allow churches, neighborhood organizations, community gardens, and other groups to construct their own outdoor food pantries.
Interested in learning more about the Outdoor Food Pantry Program? Or would your family, church, club, school group, or organization like to learn how to support grassroots mutual aid efforts by ADOPTING A PANTRY in your neighborhood? Contact ABFPC Coordinator Gina Smith at [email protected] for details!
For more about the Outdoor Pantry Program, check out this recent story from Mountain Xpress: Food pantry initiatives aid underserved communities
Posted to mountainx.com on November 15, 2021 by Edwin Arnaudin
Planning for an emergency is one thing, but responding in the midst of one is something else entirely. That was the situation that confronted the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council’s Emergency Food Preparedness working group at the onset of the pandemic, though its members were fortunate to have somewhat of a head start.
“We were trying to get a feel for neighborhoods and reaching out to them to see where the needs were that we could possibly try to help supplement,” says working group member Isa Whitaker, coordinator of Bountiful Cities’ Asheville Buncombe Community Garden Network. “We were talking to the Red Cross and learning about the way [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] does its rollout in emergencies — just learning all the ins and outs.”
Inspired by small food pantries and farm stands they’d seen around town, the working group members then went out in pairs to neighborhoods, including Deaverview, Haw Creek and East End, with Whitaker and Mary Lou Kemph focusing on Shiloh. There, they found willing allies in the Shiloh Community Association, whose members Whitaker says were already having conversations about food emergencies. Together, they soon had an outdoor pantry built in the Shiloh Peace Garden.
Read the full article HERE.