During the pandemic, Michael Reinmiller has seen some communities set up boxes or cabinets with a door and stock them with food and other essentials for people in need. He thought it suited him just fine, so he made a box and put it in place. This started a Little Free Pantry movement that continues to grow in Capitol City.
Reinmiller says, “My stepfather built a dozen or 14 of them. Civic Nebraska got us a grant to pay for the materials for a lot of them and it snowballed. It started with one and there are now over 40 in Lincoln that I know of.
Inside these free little pantries are the essentials people need. Popular foods are cereals, mac and cheese, peanut butter, crackers, breakfast bars, pop pies, and canned foods. Reinmiller says, “Feminine hygiene projects are a fortune. You can buy $300 worth of feminine hygiene products and that doesn’t fill a lot of pantry. Layers are another thing. When it’s really hot, I try to put on sunscreen so that if someone is homeless, they can put some on. Baby wipes are another very expensive item and if you are a parent, you really need them. Every once in a while in the winter I put some Snickers candy bars in there because everyone deserves chocolate. For Christmas last year, a church group put frozen hams inside pantries to feed those in need.
Pantries have a sticker on them that says, “take what you need, leave what you can” and #kindnessmatters.
Reinmiller says they’ll be sending out flyers soon that say “Make Your Own Stuffing Squad” or “Cramming Council.” He says, “The idea is that you get six or eight friends and each of you hits a pantry once a week. You don’t have to fill it out. Put in a few boxes of cereal or a box of pop pies and you’re done. But if 10 of your friends do it, it’s pretty often full. It’s a huge example of what it’s like to be a resident of Lincoln. Even if you are homeless and hungry or have children to feed, people say “you know what”. I think it’s so awesome. ‘
Several times a month, you will see Reinmiller and his family going around and stocking the pantries to help others in our community.