The Plaza District has a new food addition, only this one comes in the form of a hand-crafted pantry and lots of community support.
Aley Cristelli was inspired by a food pantry she heard about in McKinney, Texas, and started planning a similar offering locally. After months of organizing and lots of team effort, the freestanding Pine Pantry opened this month.
“I work in public health and have a nutrition background. This means I know firsthand the impact of going without adequate nutrition,” Cristelli explains. “It’s difficult to think about much else than your next meal if you are facing food insecurity.”
Cristelli said the Plaza District was the obvious choice to house the pantry, due to there being a need in the area and because it’s a busy hub of walkers and businesses who can “hopefully drop off donations while they shop or head to dinner.”
She adds, “There is a sincere sense of community in the Plaza. You can feel it when you talk to shop owners and patrons. Everyone seems to have a vested interest in the area, and they really care about one another.
“I truly think that if someone came to your door to ask for food you would be willing to help. This just takes away the need for someone to ask.”
Cristelli says she has already taken steps to expand into other areas of the city after getting such a supportive response to her first food pantry.
“It really took a team effort … I don’t take credit for the idea, I just got it going in the area and hope to inspire others to do so, too.”
Any types of non-perishable food donations are accepted, with the most popular being canned soups, toilet paper, pasta and personal hygiene items like toothpaste and deodorant. You can drop off at Pine Pantry – between Aurora and Sasquatch Shaved Ice – any time, or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange the collection of larger items.
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