Leave what you can, take what you need: ‘Free little pantry’ initiative expands at the Shore

Residents are also encouraged to keep the boxes stocked. Officials say to leave non-perishable, canned goods, and personal care items (excluding sharp objects and chemicals). (Courtesy of The Little Free Pantry)

Residents are also encouraged to keep the boxes stocked. Officials say to leave non-perishable, canned goods, and personal care items (excluding sharp objects and chemicals). (Courtesy of The Little Free Pantry)

“Leave what you can, take what you need.”

That’s the motto of a new program in Ocean County’s Stafford Township, where teenager Parker Petty unveiled his Eagle Scout project, dubbed “Free Little Pantry,” last year.

Petty and his father, along with fellow Eagle Scouts, began building and installing the boxes, stocked with typical pantry items, in several locations around the town to provide food for those in need.

A nationwide movement began in 2016 by the organization “The Little Free Pantry,” which according to the founders, “utilizes a familiar, compelling concept to pique local interest in and action against local food insecurity.”

Officials in Stafford say the boxes in their community are accessible to the public “all day, every day, all year long.”

Residents are also encouraged to keep the boxes stocked. Officials say to leave non-perishable, canned goods, and personal care items (excluding sharp objects and chemicals).

The pantry boxes are located at Heritage Park (49 W. Bay Avenue), Beach Avenue Park (77 Beach Ave) and the Bay Avenue Community Center (775 E. Bay Ave), with one more box to be installed in Ocean Acres (location not yet determined).

Pantries are also available in Monmouth (247 Broad Street, Red Bank; 47 South St, Manasquan) and Cape May (112 Route 49, Tuckahoe) counties.

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