By Emily Norman
Help and community giving is just around the corner in Masterton East, which now has a Little Free Food Pantry and Little Free Library.
East side residents and members of the wider Masterton community gathered at Te Awhina Cameron Community House this week to celebrate the launch of the “Little Free” initiatives, which work on the principle of “take what you need, leave what you can”.
Community House Coordinator Donna Gray said everyone was really “into” the idea, adding she knew first-hand the need for it in the community.
Each week she picks up a store of food from Pak N Save and drives around the neighbourhood on weekends, “giving food to anybody that was in need”.
“We knew there was a need, and when Sandy Ryan of Connecting Communities started talking about these little free pantries, we were into it,” she said.
The project works on the principle that people with extra food can leave it in the colourfully decorated pantry outside the Community House, and those in need can access it.
“Of course, the free library is just awesome as well,” she said.
“The kids can come and help themselves to books and their parents can as well.”
She said initiatives like this “really worked” in small groups of communities such as Masterton East.
“We don’t know the struggles and I guess that if we’ve all got gardens and excess produce, it’s a good time to be aware that other people are struggling and be able to just put them outside in an available space that those who need, without feeling ashamed, can help themselves.”
The Little Free Food Pantry (Pataka) is the first unit installed in Masterton, and the Little Free Library (Puna Matauranga) is the second unit of several others to be installed in town, built by the Masterton Men’s shed.
The first Masterton Little Free Library unit was located in Totara Street, Lansdowne, and is well-used.
Another project that was celebrated by east side residents was the establishment of a wi-fi unit at the Community House.
The wi-fi was set up in conjunction with Masterton Library and Technology Solutions.
Masterton District Council Maori liaison officer Hoani Paku said the goal was to establish a bank of seven computers for public access, as well as wi-fi access for staff and the public.
The event launching the initiatives was officiated by Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson.