This Year's Charity — The Little Pantry that Could
"The Little Engine That Could" — do you remember reading or having someone read this book to you? A little hard work and perseverance got the little engine up the hill and traveling along the tracks again. Well, this year's AICP Annual Conference selected charity, "The Little Pantry That Could", follows that same premise. They started small and continue to work hard in helping the homeless and those less fortunate in the Nashville area. As you learn about the charity below, the Silent Auction Sub-Committee members know AICP Conference attendees and members will support this charity, just like our past charities.
Who is The Little Pantry That Could?
The Little Pantry That Could is a charity which offers a grocery store-like experience without charge to clients. The Little Pantry is staffed by volunteers and distributes fresh produce, shelf-stable foods and basic necessities each Saturday morning.
In addition to providing food, The Little Pantry also offers warming shelters on nights the temperatures fall below 32°. Its Outreach Center hosts weekly outreach with Mental Health Co-Op, Centerstone, Metro Social Services and the VA. There is a monthly Dental Clinic for those who have no access to dental care. Daily Outreach Services such as providing ID's, Food Stamp Applications, Housing Applications, assistance finding medical and vision care, Bus Passes, Job Searches and supporting referrals to other agencies are also provided. The Little Pantry's doors are open twice a week to allow those living outside to do laundry and have a shower.
Currently, The Little Pantry provides outreach services to approximately 75 individuals living outside. They also provide groceries, free of charge, to around 180 - 200 families each week.
Once a month, a musician living on the streets is invited in to play an acoustic set. The community is invited to enjoy the music, which helps break down stereotypes and builds confidence in the artist.
Near future plans consist of renovating a large kitchen area that will provide culinary arts classes to assist clients searching for sustainable jobs. It will also provide prep space for other agencies that provide meals for those living outside. Also in development is an entrepreneurial class available to those wanting to start their own small catering or baking business.
The Little Pantry's mission is to provide produce and shelf stable items free of charge on a weekly basis to anyone in need. There are no questions asked — there is no judgment. Shopping is done on a "one on one" basis with each person. A "Client Choice" format is used in order to eliminate food waste. This also allows for a personal connection with each and every shopper. It is made sure that everyone knows that they are cared for at The Little Pantry That Could.
While primarily a food pantry, they are about more than just filling a bag with food. They are about filling a need — whatever that need may be. The Little Pantry also provides referrals to other agencies for specific needs and also coordinates with other local organizations to host Food Stamp Clinics, Housing Clinics, Employment and Healthcare Clinics.
Every person who enters its doors is treated with dignity and respect. To fulfill The Little Pantry's mission, the staff looks at each individual and tries to provide what he or she needs instead of strictly providing only certain services.
One reason that "The Little Pantry That Could" was selected was the variety of ways that AICP members can contribute. You can contribute through the Silent Auction, by purchasing a conference pin, by donating food, toiletries, blankets, or cash. The Silent Auction and Charity sub-committee has scheduled a service day, Sunday, September 23rd, where AICP members can volunteer in some capacity at the Pantry.
How You Can Help
- Donate a Silent Auction item.
- Cash donations can be made online or at conference.
- Purchase conference pins! All proceeds go directly to The Little Pantry that Could.
- Bid! Bid! Bid! 100% of silent auction proceeds go to The Little Pantry that Could.
- Visit their website, www.thelittlepantrythatcould.org to learn more about The Little Pantry that Could.
- Participate in the chapter challenge.
- Participate in the Service Day, Sunday, September 23rd from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.