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  • Mary Palinkos

Our Newest Ministry: a Little Free Pantry

Living in a town like Southington, many of us can easily forget about food insecurity. Although many of our neighbors struggle to make ends meet, access to food feels like a “given” for many others.

Yet, food insecurity is an ever-present reality for too many in our town. In Connecticut, the percent of school-age children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches grew from 25.4% in 2001 to 37.9% in 2015. Experts say that these numbers are almost certainly worse due to the financial crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Southington has many services addressing food insecurity. Bread for Life offers hot lunches six days a week and take-home bags for dinner, family dinners on Wednesday evenings, meal deliveries, food pantries, and snacks and meals for schoolchildren. Southington Community Services stocks a food pantry, where we at St. Paul’s have adopted a shelf.

In July, St. Paul’s launched our own addition to these services: a Little Free Pantry. Like the Little Free Libraries, people leave and take donated food whenever they want. Our pantry is open 24/7 to everyone! More information about the pantry is available here.

A group of 30 gathers at the front of the church, near the Little Free Pantry
Ceremony to install the Little Free Pantry at St. Paul's

On Tuesday evening this week, we celebrated this new ministry with Bishop Laura Ahrens and Maggie Breen, North Central Region Missionary. It was a blessing to be together with them to recognize the ongoing need for food access in our area.

Our church’s driveway is already a prominent turnaround point in town. Now, people turning around can also quickly drop off a donation or pick up one of the provisions already in the pantry.

Please spread the news that our pantry is open for business. There are no requirements people need to fulfill before using it. That’s why the motto is, “Give what you can, take what you need.” This week, I'm offering this prayer:

Almighty God, we thank you that you have put it into the hearts of your people to make offerings for your service. Be with us now as we set apart this Little Free Pantry to your praise and glory. Bless all who provide for this pantry, and all who are fed by it. We pray this will be a sign of the nurturing of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


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