Patrick Quivey pulled out cans of tuna, Chef Boyardee ravioli and SPAM and placed them in the 4-by-5 foot pine cupboard in the breezeway at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
The retired social worker added a few apples, bananas, canned green beans and canned corn, which shared space with a bag of tortillas and some rice.
On the doors an inscription reads: “Take what you need and leave the rest; return the favor when you are blessed.”
“People who are hungry, when they see food all around them, it’s not only just that they’re starving, it’s an insult,” Quivey said Monday. “It’s really just discouraging.”
Although he didn’t come up with the idea, Quivey built the church’s new food pantry, adding glass panels so people can see what’s inside or when it needs refilling and added weights so doors stay shut even if folks forget to latch them. He said he built the cupboard in his backyard, making sure it can withstand the elements, especially the wind. It was brought to the church about a month ago, Quivey said.
The pantry offers food to those who need it without requiring them to go through a means test, Quivey said. It’s also an easy way to donate for those who want to give, he said.
“They can walk right in and open the door and put things in,” Quivey said. “It’s completely unpoliced. We know somebody’s going to take advantage of it, but we’d rather not be so upset about that as thinking about who can we help meet the needs of.”
The church’s senior warden, Jeannine Galatioto, said she came up with the idea of starting a food pantry after seeing the concept in a magazine. It was modeled after the Little Free Library program, Galatioto said, which encourages folks to take a book and leave a book.
Everyone at the church supported the idea of creating a food pantry modeled on the Little Free Library program, Galatioto said. They’re just trying to keep it stocked, she said.
“People are obviously utilizing it and church members are bringing food,” she said. “For the most part it’s people that are obviously in need of food. We’re not concerned about who takes the food or who brings the food to us, it’s a free will offering by us or by whoever would like to, and there’s no criteria for who takes food out.”
According to Galatioto, the homeless community is familiar with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church through its monthly dinners as well as a variety of 12-step programs that meet two or three times a day at the facility.
For those who would like to donate, Galatioto said good items to include are some kind of protein, either cans of tuna, Vienna sausages as well as peanut butter — things that don’t require cooking. Fruit cups and trail mix go over well, although those with dental issues may find eating nuts difficult, she said.
Folks also appreciate soup with pop-can tops, juice boxes, Cup of Noodles and treats such as cookies, Galatioto said. She also adds a few pairs of socks two or three times a week as well as toiletries.
“I think it’s hard for me if I see it empty, but then I have to realize too that we want other people to participate,” Galatioto said. “I take things two or three times a week and other people in our church (do) too. Groups that meet at the church occasionally bring stuff, it just needs to get that word of mouth.”
Quivey pointed out those who might use the food pantry may have run out of money for food at the end of the month. It isn’t always those who are homeless, he said.
Quivey said he’s hoping the free food pantry idea will catch fire.
“It would be interesting to see if any other church or any other town would pick it up and work with it,” he said. “That’s the thing I’m looking forward to.”
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is at 220 E. Macken Ave. in Crescent City. For more information about the food pantry, call 707-464-2708.
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org .