A Makeover for a Little Pantry with a Big Heart

By Stacy Downey
January 5, 2015
The Little Pantry that Could

The first time I truly saw hunger was when I started The Little Pantry That Could, a food pantry in Nashville, Tenn. I witnessed families devouring food straight from the bags they just received. I was stunned. After sitting face to face with a man whose belly ached, learning he hadn’t eaten since the day before, I knew my work had only just begun.

Here at The Little Pantry That Could, we stay true to our name – we’re a small, but mighty operation with a big heart. Run by volunteers in the basement of a local church, we serve about 150 people every Saturday. Some families ride a bus for hours to reach us each week. With a focus on reducing food waste, we work one-on-one with our clients to choose the foods they need, so they will eat and enjoy the meals they receive.

As we work to get critical food in the hands of our clients, we haven’t had the budget to invest in our facility over the years. Our shelving units are held up by zip ties and pieces of wood, our tables and chairs are caving in and a small donated freezer has a door falling off the hinges.  

So when we heard Walmart was helping 75 food pantries nationwide win $20,000 each for facility makeovers, we jumped at the opportunity. We rallied the Nashville community together through social media and phone calls, asking everyone to vote for us through the Food Pantry Holiday Makeover campaign; and with their support we won $20,000 – our biggest grant ever!

Just when we thought things couldn’t get better, we were also selected for a design consultation by James Young, DIY expert, licensed contractor and electrician. James traveled all the way to Nashville to meet with us. We toured our pantry and he shared ideas we had never considered for our space to help maximize the grant. We are now thinking about adding rolling shelves, a commercial freezer and even a van to help us transport clients to a warming shelter nearby.

We could not thank Walmart enough for their generosity, and for truly understanding the needs of food pantries today, which extend beyond the food we provide. With their support we can now renovate our little pantry so we can better serve those in need in our community and continue living up to our name. 

Watch our full story and hear more from James Young.