Photograph by: Logan Cook, Arizona Daily Wildcat
What is Tucson Free Pantry?
TFP launched in 2016 as a community driven and sustainably bootstrapped effort to meet immediate and local need. TFP aims to decrease nutritional insecurity, promote positive health and foster community in the Southern Borderlands regions by building free and easily accessible pantries and by providing high quality health education. TFP applies a similar concept to Little Free Library through providing outdoor pantries for those in need or those who want to give.
A recent article in The Daily Wildcat does an excellent job explaining our roots, mission and passion. Click here to read.
Please also explore Tucson Free Pantry in the media:
April 4, 2017: Edible Baja Arizona
Feb 22, 2017: UATV 3
Feb 8, 2017: The Daily Wildcat
Feb 6, 2017: Tucson News NOW
Jan 30, 2017: This is Tucson
Jan 30, 2017: Arizona Daily Star
Jan 30, 2017: KGUN9
Why Tucson Free Pantry?
It is estimated that in the United States there are currently 50 million people living in poverty according to US Census Federal Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). These 50 million people currently living in poverty in the US while often working multiple jobs–have less than $30 dollars a week to buy adequate foods. In the Southern Arizona Borderlands region alone, the University of Arizona Poverty Project estimates that 1 in 3 children live in poverty with Tucson having the 8th highest rate of poverty in the US at 25.7%. Further according to the 2015 Tucson Well Being Survey, 40% of those individuals living in poverty have reported skipping meals.
It’s clear that nutritional insecurity in American and particularly in the Southern Arizona Borderlands, Tucson, University of Arizona and other communities remains an enormous and pressing issue. Many vulnerable individuals, students and families are routinely skipping meals and not receiving adequate nutritional supplement due to numerous financial and social barriers. These unfortunate facts coupled with rising food costs and an incredible food waste pipeline, which according to United Nations averages 1.33 Billion Tonnes (or about 30% of all edible food thrown away)–presents an incredible opportunity for a community driven, inclusive and sustainable solution: Tucson Free Pantry.
How Tucson Free Pantry Meets a Need
While there are many wonderful pantries, soup kitchens, food banks and nutritional insecurity alleviation efforts in the Southern Arizona Borderlands region and beyond, many present barriers to utilization and access, which the Tucson Free Pantry is pointedly designed to address.
For example many public pantries, soup kitchens and food banks:
- Have limited access hours and locations
- Require documentation and/or an identification document
- Are sometimes out of reach of the most vulnerable and needy
- May elicit barrier producing fear, shame and judgements
- May require significant and expensive staff oversight/supervision
- May necessitate a brick and mortar location and related resources to maintain such a physical location
The Tucson Free Pantry does not require intensive resources, an ID card, forms, an intake process, can be located near where the most need may be, is largely community driven/supported, is always open 24/7 and best of all eliminates any possible judgements, shame or fear as a barrier to accessing needed nutritional supplement for the most vulnerable of individuals, families and students.
TFP through building, maintaining and stocking free pantries as well as providing high quality health education–serves an emergent, viable and high need gap. The TFP works diligently with community partners, stakeholders and volunteers to decrease nutritional insecurity, repurprose and reduce unnecessary food waste and ensure receipt of high quality health education to the diverse Southern Arizona and Tucson Borderland communities.
How can I help?
We cannot continue our mission to alleviate nutritional insecurity and provide high quality health education with out the many engaged and dedicated stakeholders, community partners, volunteers and donors. We encourage you to contact Tucson Free Pantry if you’re interested in learning more and assisting your community in coming together to address and reduce nutritional insecurity and alleviate suffering in the most vulnerable and hungry in the Southern Arizona Borderlands and beyond.