Frequently Asked Questions

Little Free Pantry

What is the Little Free Pantry program?


The Little Free Pantry in West Windsor is a small, free-standing pantry stocked with free, shelf-stable food and open to all 24/7. It is located in the parking lot of the West Windsor Arts Council located at 952 Alexander Road, West Windsor, one block from the NJ Transit Princeton Junction train station. It is open to anyone, without any qualifying criteria.




How does the Little Free Pantry operate?


Volunteers keep an eye on the pantry to make sure that it is clean and stocked. Anyone, and that means anyone, can put food in or take food out. The motto of the Little Free Pantry is, “Take what you need. Give what you can.”




Why is the Little Free Pantry needed?


In working with Mercer Street Friends, the volunteers on the Send Hunger Packing West Windsor-Plainsboro Advisory Committee realized that the weekend backpack program for students in grades K - 6 was not helping to meet the food insecurity needs of older students and adults in the area. A member of the Advisory Committee, Doreen Garelick, proposed the idea of a Little Free Pantry that would be open to all to help address the issue of food insecurity.




How is the Pantry paid for?


Shelf-stable foods are placed directly into the Little Free Pantry by generous community members. In addition, SHuP WW-P provides food to help keep the Little Free Pantry stocked and this food is paid for completely through donations. All are welcome to donate by going to the Mercer Street Friends website https://mercerstreetfriends.org/donation-page/ and writing “For Little Free Pantry WW” in the comment section of the donation form.





Donations

How can I help during the pandemic?


Monetary donations are greatly appreciated. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from dance classes being held by a member of our community are going to our Little Free Pantry. Click here for more information.




What can I donate?





How can I make a donation to the SHuP WW-P program or the Little Free Pantry WW program?


Please go to the Mercer Street Friends website https://mercerstreetfriends.org/donation-page/ and write “For SHuP WW-P” or “For Little Free Pantry WW” in the comment section of the donation form, which ever you choose.





Send Hunger Packing

What social media platforms is Send Hunger Packing on?


Facebook




What is the Send Hunger Packing WW-P (SHuP WW-P) program?


The Send Hunger Packing West Windsor-Plainsboro program provides weekend food to children in the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District in grades K – 6 who are entitled to receive free or reduced lunches during the school week under the National School Lunch Program, see https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/child-nutrition-programs/national-school-lunch-program.aspx.




Who is entitled to participate in the SHuP WW-P program?


Children who are entitled to enroll in the National School Lunch Program are also entitled to participate in the SHuP WW-P program.




Why is participation in SHuP WW-P limited to grades K-6?


Over the years, it was found that children at the upper grade levels are reticent to participate; even though the program could benefit them.




How is the food provided to those enrolled?


Packets of non-perishable food sufficient for four weekend meals are discreetly placed in the backpacks of the participating children by school personnel who are the only ones who know the identity of the participants in the program.




When did the program begin?


The program began in the Spring of 2018 when a group of residents of the School District, coming from the towns of West Windsor and Plainsboro, realized that a significant number of students in this otherwise wealthy community suffer from food insecurity. The group met with the organization that runs the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and School District Officials to get approval to begin the program in the West Windsor-Plainsboro District. The program launched after issues of funding and distribution were worked out.




How does the program operate? How do families learn about the program?


At the beginning of the school year, and appropriate times thereafter, School District personnel, such as guidance, nurses or teachers let eligible families know that they can choose to have their children participate in the program.




Why is the program important?


The program is an investment in our children. By reducing food insecurity in families and providing weekend nutrition, children can come to school and concentrate on learning.




Has the program proven to be successful?


Yes. The School District has received feedback that the program is effective.




Who pays for this program?


The program is run only through donations. The approximate cost is $6.00 per week per student. The approximate number of students in the program is over 100. The SHuP WW-P program raised all the funds for the first year and a half of the program. Then, last year, through a commitment from Mercer Street Friends, the program was told that it would continue. However, donations are critically necessary to assure that the students in the School District who are facing food insecurity will continue to have this program available.




Is this a unique program?


The Little Free Pantry movement began in Arkansas in 2016 to help address food insecurity at the neighborhood level, see http://www.littlefreepantry.org. The program appears to be growing. The West Windsor Little Free Pantry is one of three in New Jersey, see http://mapping.littlefreepantry.org. Due to the COVID-19 experience, there should be others coming soon. The Send Hunger Packing West Windsor-Plainsboro Advisory Committee is contemplating putting a second Little Free Pantry in another location in West Windsor Township.




Is food insecurity an issue in New Jersey?


Yes. Below is information about food insecurity in New Jersey. While our programs may not end hunger, SHuP WW-P’s mission is to provide food and have a life-changing effect on people in our own community who are experiencing food insecurity.