IN CELEBRATION OF GLOBAL YOUTH SERVICE DAY, the Shiawassee Family YMCA hosted “Project Pantry – Little Food Pantries” on Saturday, April 24 in the gymnasium, where construction of six little food pantries took place. A little food pantry is a mini pantry, generally located in an outside, public space – offering free food to any person in need.

   The event was funded by a grant from Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation Youth Grant. Abby Tepper, Shiawassee Family YMCA staff, applied for the grant and was the project leader.

   “We know that four of 10 people experiencing food insecurity currently are new to this experience and over 40 percent of households in Shiawassee County live at or below the ALICE poverty level,” Tepper explained. “Owosso Public Schools students are eligible for 100 percent free breakfast and lunch and many of the other districts in the county have greater than 50 percent eligible for free or reduced lunch.”

   Tepper shared the little food pantries will be located in Laingsburg, Perry, Durand and Owosso. She was pleased to report that each food pantry already had a sponsor, too.

    One of the groups of volunteers, representing Perry, included (from left) Grace O’Neill, Emma Cochrane, Nathaniel Cochrane, Ava Hendricks and Juliana Forbush, FFA Advisor at Perry High School. The team was actively constructing a little food pantry.

     The Shiawassee Family YMCA began offering food support to the community shortly after being forced to close due to COVID-19 last year partnering with Owosso Public Schools to distribute breakfasts and lunches to area families. That then expanded into holding monthly food distributions from the Greater Lansing Food Bank and recently creating the SOARs restaurant meal program with funding from United Way of Genesee County (serving Genesee and Shiawassee Counties), which supported both area restaurants and neighbors needing food support.

   For more information call (989) 725-8136 or visit

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)

Project Pantry – Little Food Pantries was last modified: May 4th, 2021 by Karen Elford