This little free pantry can be found outside the MUD tool library office.

Hello! My name is Emily Kempe and I am an intern at MUD while I work on my master’s degree in social work at the University of Montana. “What is a social worker doing at a tool library?” you might ask. Well, social work can happen at all levels of our society: individual, group, community, statewide and nationally. I personally love doing social work at the community level and MUD is the perfect hub to help connect and empower people.

This school year, I have been working on projects that help leverage what MUD does well to make a greater impact on our community members. One of the ideas that I had at the beginning of my internship was to develop and implement a workshop that could bring people together to improve our own Missoula neighborhoods. I had been noticing some “Little Free Pantries” start popping up in East Missoula during the pandemic and thought that it would be a meaningful resource to bring into our community too. In case you don’t know, the Little Free Pantry movement started as a branch off of the Little Free Library movement, but instead of books, they hold non perishable food and toiletries for people to take and use! The LFP motto is, “take what you need, leave what you can.” 

MUD hosted our very own Little Free Pantry building workshop on April 17th in partnership with Home Resource. Participants came to the MUD site, picked up used materials from Home Resource and built out their own LFP with the help of our head Tool Librarian Christian Russell. We started the workshop with a group reflection (yay social work). I asked participants to share how they heard about the workshop, what impact they were hoping to make with their LFP and to read and reflect on the Little Free Pantry guiding principles:

The mini pantry movement is everyone’s, and we talk about it.
We count on each other to create something bigger than ourselves.
We are interdependent.
We give without expectation or strings attached. 
We mutually benefit.
We know our neighborhoods can make good change from the bottom up.

Emily and a participant working together

Workshop participants really embraced the spirit of the Little Free Pantry movement. Everyone was positive, encouraging and quick to lend a helping hand with someone else’s project. All of the LFP’s were repurposed from used materials too, which goes hand in hand with MUD and Home Resource’s missions of sustainability. Each participant had such a different take on their LFP and I was absolutely blown away by their creativity. In the end, each person got to take home their very own pantry for their very own neighborhood. Keep your eyes peeled for the finished projects around Missoula and if you have a chance to “leave what you can,” please do!

Thank you to Earth On Up Photography for the excellent photos!

Categories: BlogWorkshops


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