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9-29-17

Fighting hunger
– Neighbors helping neighbors


Photo Left: Photo of the Little Free Pantry stocked full of food and other items. Located at 1153 NW U.S. HWY 41 in Jasper, Florida, at the end of the sidewalk under the overhang on the County Courthouse Annex grounds, (Chan Bridge Dr.) -Photo submitted by GR Wier

Above Image: Everyone can take direct actions to reduce hunger. Each of us should extend compassion for and help to our neighbors and get involved in hunger relief efforts in our communities.
-Courtesy Photo: National Commission on Hunger


By Tami Stevenson


Hunger is a world-wide concern. As global communication increases, the awareness of hunger grows everyday. In America, the most prosperous nation on earth, people face hunger everyday and statistics show it is the children that suffer most. A White Springs woman has decided to become involved in Hamilton County by putting up a “Little Free Pantry” (LFP) in Jasper. G. R. Wier said it was a welcomed suggestion when she approached the county coordinator’s office.


“Beginning an LFP is a core to helping a community in the fight against hunger and basic needs,” Wier said in a release. The idea is to get the whole community involved in helping to keep the open pantry stocked. LFP is an organization that, according to their website, http://www.littlefreepantry.org/, is a grassroots community solution to immediate local needs. Whether you have a need for food or a need to give, “...the Little Free Pantry facilitates neighbors helping neighbors, building community.”


Wier stated, “My thought is a simple one; to help a need where there may be hunger, no matter who or why.  A place where someone may find a small snack or a meal in desperate times.  To involve a community in helping one another, assisting all with need.”


According to a 2015 report from the National Commission on Hunger (NCH), more than 12.3 million American households do not have enough food to eat. They call it a “food insecure household,” which means a “lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.” The NCH broke these numbers down by ethnicity, “The hunger rate among African American households is 10.4% (1.6 million households); for Hispanic households, it is 6.9% (1.1 million households); whereas for white households, that rate is 4.5% (3.8 million households). Among American Indians, data are not available for hunger rates. These racial and ethnic differences have been consistent since the USDA began measuring food insecurity in 1995,” the report stated.


The report from NCH also stated that many factors lead to hunger in America. For example, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) has been shown to reduce hunger, but it does not succeed in eliminating it altogether for every participant. Furthermore, hunger occurs in 25.5% of households with incomes below 130% of the poverty line that did apply for and receive SNAP benefits for 12 months, but occurs in only 10% of households at the same income level that did not receive SNAP benefits at all during that period. Clearly, hunger has causes other than income alone, and therefore, food assistance alone will not eliminate hunger.



U.S. households experience hunger because of a variety of factors, including low or underemployment, family instability, exposure to violence, personal choices, or a combination of these. These factors can play a large role in hunger and cannot be addressed solely through the public nutrition assistance programs or through charitable giving. Understanding the root causes of hunger is essential in order to eliminate hunger.



Wier said if each person able to do so will contribute one item each week to help stock the Little Free Pantry, everyone wins and the Pantry will never be empty. There is a blue container at the County Coordinator’s Office available to stock overflow during business hours. Wier would like to challenge Jasper residents to give “just a bit of themselves” to help a neighbor.



Suggested items include peanut butter, pastas, oatmeal, cereal, canned goods, tuna, meat, snack packages and non-food items such as diapers, soaps, and feminine and other hygiene products.


The pantry is located at the end of the sidewalk under the overhang on the County Courthouse Annex grounds, (Chan Bridge Dr.) at 1153 NW U.S. HWY 41 in Jasper, Florida. To find them on Facebook, search “The Little Free Pantry in Jasper, Florida”.


Wier said in a post she would like to thank Hamilton County Coordinator Louie Goodin for allowing The Little Free Pantry to be there.