About the Pantry Project
In the Summer of 2021, the Engaged Buddhism Planning Committee decided to sponsor free food pantries in our community. After project research, two locations were identified, pantry building plans were drawn up, construction money was raised with a funding appeal to the Sangha, and construction began with all work done by WHS volunteers.
The first pantry was built for and assembled in front of Kristy Mooney’s house. Her house is between low income housing and Rice Elementary School in Santa Maria. The young children and their families walk past the pantry on their way to school and home again. The pantry opened for business on the first day of school, August 12, 2021. We quickly found that many of these families suffer from food insecurity. Thanks to the generosity of the sangha, the UUF, and various produce companies, it has been stocked (and emptied) at least twice each day that school has been in session.
By September 2021, the second pantry opened. It is a shared project with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (UUF) across from Meadow Park. The UUF purchased the materials but our volunteers built it and it was assembled onsite with the assistance of a UUF volunteer. This pantry serves a more transient population, many of whom are unhoused. The UUF is a distribution site for the SLO Food Bank and will stock the pantry from their storehouse. In addition, we shop for and stock this pantry twice a week with much needed items that the SLO Food Bank does not offer.
Dana to support this project is provided primarily by WHS members. However, we are also forming partnerships with generous growers* and retailers in the area who will provide fresh fruit and vegetables for these pantries on a regular basis. This greatly enhances our ability to provide nutritional support through our pantries.
For more information about the Pantry Project please contact Anne Marie Bergen, Pantry Project Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Special thanks to these WHS Sangha members for their work on establishing the Pantry Project: Kat Tuculet, for bringing the idea and carrying it forth, pantry painter, food gatherer and deliverer, consultant with UU, and anything else the project needs. And to her husband the architect of the pantries. Sharon Rippner, our EB leader, fundraiser, painter, and fresh fruit picker. Kate Christensen, our researcher and consultant with UU, painter, and generous food collector and deliverer. Rob Robinson, the builder of the two pantries. Kristy Mooney who hosts one of the pantries—a daily job of organizing, stocking and managing this pantry. Anne Marie Bergen who is volunteer coordinator for the Pantry Project and also gleans food for the pantry from backyard orchards and farms. Last, but certainly not least, thank you to all of the WHS Sangha members, friends and family members who donate money, time, and energy to sustain this Pantry Project.
*Freshkist, a produce grower, packer and shipper, who is donating and delivering fresh vegetables weekly.
*Windset farms, a very innovative grower, who is donating tomatoes and cucumbers on an as needed basis.