The pantry run by the Assemblies of God ArePua Gateway Church is open from 8am to 7pm Monday to Saturday. It contains food supplies, mainly non-perishable items such as canned food.
Talitha Horn, who is coordinating the pantry, said the initiative started about five weeks ago.
Initially it was for members of their community but given the nationwide impact of Covid-19, it is now open to the whole island.
“The idea came up last year. Every Fridays after the youth service we used to go up the valley to drop the kids’ home and my heart just broke a little when I say the conditions of living.
“I thought what I can do to help, that’s when the idea came, lets just put some food out there for the needy,” Horn said.
“It’s a small need but it’s something we can do. The bigger picture would be something like a community garden where people can come and plant and harvest their crops.”
The pantry is self-sufficient, meaning community members drop off food and those in need take them away.
Horn said the pantry also provides a platform for people who want to help others in the community.
“Some people want to help but there is no platform for them to do so, this pantry is giving that platform. Also our people have a lot of pride going up to someone and say ‘help me please’. This is an easy way to help yourself, there is no cameras, there is no one looking at you, you just come and take whatever you need.
“We know there are people coming from Matavera to drop off the supplies and there are people coming as far as Vaimaanga to take home some food items. So this is open for the whole island.”
There are no restrictions on the amount of goods people can take from the pantry but Horn is asking them to be mindful of others.
“We can’t be conditional about this stuff, we can’t open our hands to give then say ‘you can have this, oh no you can’t have this’.
“My advice to the takers, please just be aware of others coming after you. Just take what you really need. Advice to givers is there is no limit to your giving whether it’s half a bag of rice or 10 bags of rice, it doesn’t matter.”