Free Little Pantry offers safety net for hunger

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Folks involved with the creation of the Free Little Pantry in Oracle celebrate its grand opening Thursday. Pinal County Supervisor Pete Rios was also in attendance.

 The Free Little Pantry located at the Butterfly Garden near the Oracle Community Center held a Grand Opening Ceremony on Thursday Sept. 24, 2020. Many of the people who had a helping hand in organizing and making the pantry a reality attended as well as Pinal County District 1 Supervisor Pete Rios.

  The Free Little Pantry was an idea starting with Tina Acosta of the Oracle Fire District. She shared the idea with a few “movers and shakers” in Oracle which included Fire Chief Robert Jennings, Ellie Brown, Rachel Opinsky, Kevin Armbrust, Dale Suter and Laura Stiltner. Others that helped included the Oracle Fire District, Oracle Community Center, local artists and many volunteers including the American Flag Gang who built and secured the pantry. The Gang is made up of Kevin Armbrust, Dale Suter, Brian Kirkpatrick and John Medley. Leroy Fors helped the Gang renovate the old locker that was donated by the Fire District. Arizona Water Company donated bottled water to the pantry. It was a neighbor helping neighbor project.

  Pete Rios talked about being proud of Oracle and how the Free Little Pantry is the first one in Pinal County. He figured if anyone could get this idea off the ground it would be people in Oracle.

  “Oracle has a big heart,” he said.

  It is something that is needed due to the pandemic’s impact on the economy and food supply chain.

  Tina Acosta thanked everyone for helping. She said she would like to see other neighbors in Oracle and the Tri-Community step up and put a Little Free Pantry in their neighborhood.

  “This is not a food bank but more of a safety net,” said Tina.

  There are many ideas at the Little Free Pantry website: www.littlefreepantry.org. Tina is also willing to help anyone interested. The mini pantry movement is a grass roots initiative to help neighbors feed neighbors.

  A recent national survey found that more than 17% of mothers reported that their children under 12 were not getting enough to eat because they could not afford to purchase food. This is a 400% increase over when the government measured hunger rates in 2018. The Oracle Free Little Food Pantry stocks non-perishable food items (canned food, dry beans, rice, pasta, cereal, peanut butter, jelly, etc.). They also stock hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, tooth brushes, tampons, paper goods, etc.  They do not accept razors, food in glass jars or other items considered dangerous. There is also a section for pet food.

  Everyone is invited to bring food and other items to the pantry and stock the shelves or if you need food, take some. “Take what you need, bring what you can.”

  Thank you, Oracle for stepping up and taking a leadership role in starting this program to benefit those in need!

Author: John Hernandez

Nancy Larsen, left, and Tina Acosta stock books and DVD donations in the Free Little Pantry.

John Hernandez (783 Posts)

John Hernandez lives in Oracle. He is retired and enjoys writing and traveling. He is active in the Oracle Historical Society. He covers numerous public events, researches historical features and writes business/artist profiles.


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