UUCC community members collectively help stock a free little pantry and vegetable & fruit bin right outside the main entrance to our Owen Brown Interfaith Center. Our motto is: If you need something, take something. And if you can donate, please do. The pantry is open 24/7 for Owen Brown and Howard County community members, and is always in need of our donations.
How to Get Involved
1. Donate Directly to the Free Little Pantry
Our pantry and produce bins are in consistent need of our donations, and all of us are invited to bring our donations with us to Sunday services each week. Items can be placed directly into the pantry, or in the cabinets in room 213 upstairs. Items you can donate directly to the free little pantry at any time include —
- Soups (pop top preferred)
- Mac and cheese
- Granola bars
- Packs crackers and cheese
- Juice boxes
- Tuna or canned meats (pop top preferred)
- Canned ravioli, pasta, etc.
- Canned fruit
- Canned vegetables
2. Set-up a Recurring Donation
Did you know you could set up an ongoing regular donation to UUCC’s Food Insecurity effort? You just sign up and the donation will happen every week, month, every 3 months — whatever works for you. It’s a good way to remember that you want to combat food insecurity in our community. Donate online via our Realm database for this cause. Simply select “Food Insecurity” from the dropdown “Fund” menu. 100% of your donation will go toward purchasing food. Thank you!
About UUCC’s Food Insecurity Ministry
UUCC has a history of providing food for those in need, either donating food to the Howard County Food Bank, making meals for the Grassroots Day Resource Center, or making sandwiches for Manna House. The Food Insecurity Ministry was formalized in 2017 under the direction of former staff member Robin Slaw who initiated the Little Free Pantry which was built by UUCC member Bruce Savadkin. It is a colorful box outside OBIC’s lower doors and welcomes people to “take what they need and give what they can”.
It was realized that families need food all year, not just for holidays.
In the early days, congregants were encouraged to bring in non-perishable food items to OBIC to fill the little red wagons. These donations are supplemented by food that is ordered and paid for by financial donations made by congregants. The donations are stored in Room 213 and each day a volunteer uses these items to stock the Little Free Pantry.
Tyrone Morton, the building manager at our Owen Brown Interfaith Center (OBIC), spoke with the manager of the Owen Brown Giant in 2020 about creating a partnership with the UUCC Food Insecurity Ministry. Following his contact with Giant, volunteers have been going to Giant twice a week to get produce, deli, and bakery items as well as non-perishable food that Giant is unable to sell but is still edible.
A large box was built by Ted Nolan in 2020 for produce. Donations from Giant, Columbia Community Cares, and private citizens keep the produce box in constant use.
The Little Free Pantry has regular visitors as well as new visitors every day. People are always saying thank you and telling us what a difference it makes.
Our Dedicated Volunteers
Current volunteers include: Norma Byers, Annilin and Peter Fort, Anne Gould, Gail Holm, Bob Muller, Lauren Polon, Margie Reyes, Ken Rock, Nancy and Jim Stivers, David and Hope Vasholz, and Cindy Williams
Substitute volunteers include: Trish Steinhilber, Dave Titman, and Cindy Hody
Past volunteers include: Linda Uphoff and Pat Heidel
We also thank Jeri and Cole Wiggins for their commitment to the bagged lunch program and Betsy Osterman and Betty Jackson for coordinating meals for the Grassroots Day Resource Center. These four people dedicated years to these programs.
Would you like to learn more or find out how you can get more involved? Please connect with our food insecurity team: FoodInsecurity@uucolumbia.net.