Prince Edward Island

Little Free Pantry in Charlottetown offers snacks and more for those in need

'Take what you need, leave what you can'

Posted: July 13, 2019

People can contribute non-perishable items such as snack bars to the Little Free Pantry outside Bedford MacDonald House in Charlottetown says Ann Thrulow, one of the Islanders behind the project. (Sam Juric/CBC)

You may have heard of Little Free Libraries, which allow people to donate and exchange used books from sidewalks in over 70 countries across the globe. 

Now a group of Islanders has taken this idea to create a similar project called a Little Free Pantry in Charlottetown. 

I don't want to have to do this. — Ann Thurlow

Islanders in need can head to the pantry in front of Bedford MacDonald House on the corner of Fitzroy and Weymouth streets, where they can access snacks like granola bars as well as toiletry items like tampons and toothbrushes. 


Ann Thurlow said she was inspired to try out the idea in Charlottetown after seeing the success of another Little Free Pantry on her Facebook feed. 

She reached out to friends on social media to see who was interested in creating a local mini-pantry. 

"I don't want to have to do this. And it makes me so sad and so angry that there are free little pantries and there are food banks and there are turkey drives," she said. "Somehow we have taken on the responsibility for the fact that people don't get paid enough, that people can't find a place to live."

"Until we can solve that ... we're going to have to put BandAids on the problem and one of those BandAids is a granola bar," she said. 


Contributing and replenishing 

The pantry has been fashioned from an old repurposed Guardian newspaper box on which has been printed "Take what you need, leave what you can." 

That's my hope, that we start putting a stuff in and nobody needs that anymore. — Ann Thurlow

So far, the group has been taking turns replenishing the Little Free Pantry over the last couple of weeks and making sure items in the pantry haven't been tampered with or damaged. 

But Thurlow said anyone is welcome to contribute non-perishable healthy items such as snack bars. 

Just the one — for now

Right now there is only one mini-pantry on P.E.I.

'I hope that people start getting paid liveable wage and there's places that are nice for people to live and people have their mental health and addictions issues dealt with,' says Thurlow. (Little Free Pantry/Facebook)

"We're just kind of seeing how much work it is and whether we can get other people on board to contribute," said Thurlow. "I think the little library started with just a few little libraries and now they're all over the place." 


Word of the mini-pantry has travelled fast, she said. 

"The first night everything was gone and so we just kept it filled up. And then gradually I think people have realized that there's always going to be something in there," she said. 

While the group hopes the pantry is able to help those who struggling with hunger, Thurlow hopes ultimately there will be a day it is no longer needed. 

"That's my hope, that we start putting a stuff in and nobody needs that anymore. And that would be wonderful."

She said the group plans to start a local Facebook page called Free Little Pantry P.E.I. that will share information about the pantry such as if it is running low on certain items. 

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Sam Juric

Sam Juric is a CBC reporter and producer, through which she's had the privilege of telling stories from P.E.I., Sudbury and Nunavut.