FRESNO, Calif. – Those who struggle to put enough food on the table have a new place to turn thanks to a group of local beekeepers. In October, three Sioux Honey Association Co-op members took time away from their hives to install central California’s first documented Little Free Pantries.
The co-op installed the first Little Free Pantry in Los Banos earlier this month. Beekeepers unveiled additional pantries in Fresno and Modesto today.
Little Free Pantries take a crowdsourced approach to meet immediate local needs by encouraging people to “take what you need and leave what you can.” The pantries are meant to be an anonymous, 24/7 option for communities. They are a spin-off of Little Free Libraries and began in 2016 with Jessica McClard, a mother in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Today hundreds exist across the country.
“The Central Valley feeds the world. No one here should go to bed hungry,” said Matt Beekman, the Sioux Honey beekeeper who installed a Little Free Pantry in Modesto.
Installation of the pantries marks the launch of what Beekman’s co-op is calling “Beekstock.” Through December, Sioux Honey is partnering with Little Free Pantry to add the first pantries in central California and keep them stocked with healthy foods.
The beekeepers partnered with local organizations in all three cities for the project. The organizations will house the pantries on their property and be stewards of the small wooden structures going forward. During the first week of October, Bob Brandi of Los Banos installed the first at the local Salvation Army. This week beekeepers added two more pantries to Sierra Vista’s Resource Center in Modesto and a neighborhood in Fresno where Marva Ward of ESA/Love Inc. resides.
The beekeepers stocked each pantry with non-perishable foods and bottles of California Beek’s honey, a new local honey product. The co-op has pledged to give a portion of Beek’s honey proceeds to keep the local pantries stocked. Beek’s can be found at Save Marts in central California or online.
Beekman says Sioux Honey is inviting others to join in on Beekstock by donating nonperishable foods or building their own pantries. He hopes Sioux Honey’s efforts will start a trend in central California and that more will pop up in the region.
ABOUT SIOUX HONEY
As a co-op, not a corporation, Sioux Honey Association was formed to operate based on what’s best for its beekeepers, its honey and its customers. Established in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1921, the co-op distributes pure, “Product of the U.S.A.,” Grade A honey to retailers nationwide on behalf of its 250 independent beekeeper members. From classic Sue Bee to local Beek’s, the co-op has a honey for every preference and use.
ABOUT LITTLE FREE PANTRY
Since the first Little Free Pantry was built in 2016, hundreds of small food pantries have been installed in communities all across the United States. Similar to the Little Free Library concept, community members can take or leave items as needed. The pantries are generally stocked with non-perishable foods and necessities like toothbrushes, socks and school supplies. Food pantries are critical to meeting the needs of those experiencing food insecurity. Little Free Pantries serve as a safety net for those who may fall through the cracks.