Altoona Girl Scout Troop Helps Bring Another ‘Little Free Pantry’ to Des Moines Metro Area

ALTOONA, Iowa -- You may have seen one before. They are popping up all over the Des Moines Metro. It's Little Free Pantries, and on Sunday a new one is opening up in Altoona thanks to Girl Scouts From Troop 296.

Troop leader Heidi O'Brien says it's a similar concept to little free libraries except instead of books, it's food that people can take or donate as they please. It's located outside the Altoona Public Library and is open every day, at all hours.

The troop came about this idea after their annual can food drive when they decided they wanted to take on a bigger service project. Scouts ranging from first to fifth grade designed the pantry, selected its location, and went to the Altoona City Council for approval.  Now the scouts will take turns being in charge of making sure the pantry is stocked and tidy.

"We wanted to do this for the community because [that way] people who are in need of food can have a food access of coming here and getting food when they need to," 10-year-old Troop 296 member Jazlyn Lopez said.

The girl scouts received a $200 grant from Grace Lutheran Church for the project. They join other miniature food pantries around Central Iowa including ones near Drake's campus, on Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, and in Norwalk, Ankeny, Oskaloosa, and Pella.

"It makes me very happy because they can just get the food and it makes me very happy that I helped in this project for them to come get food," 9-year-old Trooop 296 member Reagan Wallace said.

There goal is to help the 26,690 Polk County residents who are going hungry according to Hunger Free Polk County.