City Officials Discuss 'Free Little Pantries'

Carrollton city officials may soon be promoting little pantries in strategic locations throughout the city that would allow those ‘in need’ to access donated non-perishable food items and items such as diapers, free of charge.
Community Development Director Erica Studdard presented the idea at Monday’s city council meeting, comparing it to the city’s popular free little library program.
“We had two council members approach us about potentially putting up little free pantries,” Studdard said. “Several years ago we had started little free libraries. There are a few around town and they have been pretty popular. You can put in as many as you would like and you can take as many as you like. This would be the same concept basically. There would be small boxes… people can add non-perishable food items and diapers or formula… or other items that people 'in need' may need.”
Gerald Byrd and Councilman Rory Wojcik brought the idea to Studdard.
“I’m so excited that people who don’t have food can go up to these pantries and get free food. It’s just that simple,” Byrd said. “I think it’s a wonderful thing and probably one of the best things we have done up here in my 16 years of being here. I know if I were hungry, I’d want this to take place.”
The City Manager would consider where the need is greatest and where the pantries would be most accessible, before deiding where the boxed pantries would be placed.
“Let’s also consider the stigma that comes along with getting free food out of these pantries (when deciding where they should be placed),” Byrd said. “Consider the shame that comes along with getting free food. And, let’s use data to determine the poorest parts of town.”
City officials say they are not aware of ‘little free pantries’ available in other towns in Georgia, but say there are similar programs nationwide.
The question was raised regarding how to monitor the quality and safety of what would be placed in the pantries by anonymous donations.
“Will there be some kind of policing mechanism to make sure the items are not sabotaged in some way or are we going to hope to heaven that everyone who puts something in there has best intentions,” Councilman Met Lane questioned. “I’m just really concerned about people taking advantage of it and harming the general public… harming the people we are trying to help. Hopefully I’m wrong.”
“As it turns out, there are state and federal laws that provide some degree of immunity for people that make food donations,” City Attorney Chuck Conerly said. “So from a liability standpoint, it’s not a significant concern.”
Studdard says the city attorney will draft a disclaimer that would reduce the city’s liability for those concerns.
City officials say several local non-profits or churches who provide food for those ‘in need’ could use the pantries as outlets when their own office doors are locked. The pantries would be available 24-7.
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Location : Georgia