CUMMING -- A grassroots organization striving to help those in need has inspired a Forsyth County resident to create a local version of the project.
Maria Pagano Castaneda, along with other members of the Forsyth County community, have joined together to create their own “Little Free Pantries” for the county.
The Little Free Pantry is a “crowdsourced solution to immediate and local need,” its website says, and is similar to the “Little Free Library” project – a take-a-book, leave-a-book exchange that has made its way across the country and into Forsyth County.
Instead of books, a Little Free Pantry contains typical pantry items available to those who need food. Anyone can stock the pantry, and Castaneda encourages the community to do so once the pantries are built and installed.
The idea for a local version came about after Castaneda found a video of a completed project on Facebook.
“I had shared it … and was just like, ‘this would be great if we had this here,’” she said. “So many people commented. They loved it. I had people that offered to build the pantries and people were like ‘yeah, we’ll stock it.’”
This encouragement led Castaneda to create a Facebook group dedicated to the creation of a Forsyth Little Free Pantry, and she is currently working with a local resident and his wife, who own a woodworking shop.
The couple offered to build and donate five pantries, and Castaneda said she has at least one more that she expects to be built.
“I’m just so pleased and humbled that everybody in this county just wants to help,” Castaneda said.
Castaneda recently met with Todd Jones, a Republican from south Forsyth who is running unopposed for the District 25 state House of Representatives seat, who pledged his dedication to the project.
The biggest challenge, Castaneda said, is finding locations for the pantries. The first will be installed near the Shady Shores subdivision in Cumming.
“Within the next month, we’ll definitely have one up, but we’re hoping to have more throughout the county,” she said. “We have people working on trying to find more locations.”
For the idea to be successful, people must be willing to donate.
It doesn’t take much, though, Castaneda said.
“All the people that are around the [pantry’s] area kind of adopt that pantry,” she explained. “When you’re driving by or you have something extra, you just stop by and stock it.”
Castaneda said she hopes the idea will catch on, and although many in Forsyth County can afford meals, there are still residents who need the help.
This project is to benefit them.
For more information or to get involved, email Maria Castaneda at firstname.lastname@example.org.