Austin woman starts Little Free Pantry to help people in need


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Neighbors helping neighbors. That’s the spirit one woman set out to capture when she set up a “Little Free Pantry” in front of her northeast Austin home. 

Jenny Lorraine told KXAN she put out the pantry at the corner of Cameron Road and Cloverleaf Drive about two weeks ago. 

The pantry works a lot like Little Free Libraries you may have seen popping up in different neighborhoods, but with non-perishable food items, clothes and toiletries. 

“There’s so much foot traffic. Dozens and dozens of people walk by every single day,” said Lorraine. “I pick up the trash. I was like there’s something I need to do for these people.”

She stocked the small cabinet with canned goods, ramen, toiletries and clothes, and soon the word spread.

“[We’ve gone through] probably about 10 dozen bottles of water,” she said. “Let’s see, the most popular item would be ramen noodles. I’ve gone through about probably 4 cases of those. Baby clothes. Diapers. Wipes.”

The pantry faces Cameron Road. “The amount of foot traffic hasn’t increased,” Lorraine said. “Nobody’s coming up to the door to knock or bother us. They’re just kind of doing this privately and quietly.”

Victor Cisneros stopped by Tuesday afternoon.

“The only clothes I have is what I have on,” he said. “And luckily I just got two pairs of pants. This means a lot. It really does. It really means a lot. It means a lot to me.”

Lorraine did say while most neighbors liked having the pantry, “a neighbor complained about the amount of trash from the pantry.” 

When we contacted the Code Department, city officials said they didn’t see trash from the pantry, but they did tell Lorraine the pantry could not block the sidewalk.

Lorraine moved it by a couple of inches all the way on to her property. The Code Department says it’s now fully compliant. 

“There’s people on their bicycles that just stop and grab a snack,” Lorraine said. “There’s kids going to work or school grabbing a granola bar because they didn’t eat breakfast. There’s people that have a job interview that pick up clothing.”

She hopes more people will think about helping others. 

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