Woman creates food pantry to help during coronavirus

Wanting to help those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, a woman created her own food pantry at her house on Eleventh Street in Albemarle.

Morghan Eckenfels reconfigured her small library book-sharing box in her front yard into a food pantry for people to donate and pick up supplies. People can take any items they desire from the box free of charge.

“It’s kind of a movement,” she said about people opening their own customized food pantries.

They are often referred to as Blessing Boxes and a pilot project called Little Free Pantry began in 2016 to take “action against local food insecurity.” She read about Little Free Pantry a few years ago and was always intrigued. After she saw an article on Facebook about Blessing Boxes, she decided to start one of her own.

She initially donated a few items of her own and then her neighbors chipped in. The movement started to take off when she posted about it on Facebook.

She’s gotten so many donations that sometimes the pantry has been overflowing with items. Eckenfels had to take some items inside her house to place back in the pantry at a later time.

Common supplies have included non-perishable canned goods, like pasta sauce, along with macaroni and cheese, granola bars and peanut butter. One person recently donated a Lowe’s gift card so she could build a bigger pantry while another donated a big bag of toilet paper.

People have been donating supplies to Morghan Eckenfels food pantry she set up last week. Photo courtesy of Morghan Eckenfels.

A colorful sign is attached to the door which reads: “Take what you need! Leave what you can. All items have been donated by your neighbors.”

The generosity she’s witnessed over the past week has really been moving.

“I think it’s amazing,” she said of the people donating items.

While people have been panicking and fighting over toilet paper, which she says can be discouraging, she said her project has reminded her “that the majority of people are good and care about each other.”

“One thing I’ve noticed is it seems like a lot of times the people that help the most are the ones that know what it’s like to need help,” she said. “They give what they can because they know what it’s like to be in a situation where you’re desperate and you need food.”

Craig Marsh, who lives in Montgomery County, made the 20-mile trek Thursday to the pantry to donate a bag of food including vienna sausage, salmon, crackers and tuna.

“It touched my heart,” Marsh said when he first heard about the project. Though it’s a small pantry, “the thought is there,” he said.

“I feel best when I’m helping others,” she said.