“We frequently had kids saying ‘I’m hungry’”, said Sylvan Lake Municipal Library Assistant Director Jeri Wolf.
These were the heartbreaking words said to library over the summer, as young kids were often left at the library for long hours because their parents couldn’t afford childcare and had to go to work. This was the impetus to start the Little Free Pantry at the library to help families in need.
“It was very sad and they couldn’t go home because there was no one at home, Wolf said. “We all got in the habit of bringing granola bars, so we thought this was just an extension of that.”
The Little Free Pantry, a sister project to the Little Free Library Project, is a program where the library accepts donations of food and household items that are then placed on the shelves for anyone to take as needed. The bonus of this program is that is available for the entire extended hours that the library runs.
“We felt there is a need right now in Sylvan Lake,” Wolf said. “With school starting up, money is tight and we have good hours for people to come down.”
The Little Free Pantry is another free program that the library provides. Being able to provide free programs is part of the libraries mandate of community service.
Contributing to the community is very important to us
“Any time that money becomes an issue and people begin losing jobs – we get busier because we are an inexpensive deal,” Wolf said. You can use free internet here; you can get help with your resume – this was just one more day to give back to the community.”
She added that “it’s very important for us to help kids in need, that’s why our programs are free because we want everyone to participate.”
The idea for the Little Free Pantry come from a similar program in the states that the library staff found online. The program started the week of September 18 and is in its “infancy”, according to Wolf.
“Right now we are focusing on getting donations and then we will go forward from there,” she said adding that Community Partners has requested that donations of diapers and baby food be made directly to them, rather then the library.
Wolf is hoping the program catches on and can help families throughout the community.
“It is strictly if you need it – take it,” she said. “If you feel the need to donate to it – donate. It is for anyone that needs it.”