People’s Pantry Cincy Is Like Little Free Library, But With Canned Goods


Pleasant Ridge resident Lisa Andrews met Mary Seguin of College Hill three years ago. The two discovered a mutual love for food, cooking, and humor and began meeting regularly. “Then one day I get this e-mail,” Seguin says. Andrews laughs, then launches into the details of People’s Pantry Cincy, her plan to tackle local food shortages, one neighborhood at a time.

Photograph by Luanne Demeo

Andrews: I saw a Facebook video of someone in Arkansas who created a food pantry similar to the little free libraries. People could leave canned food and toiletry items—like shampoo, feminine products, and diapers—for other people to take. I posted it on the Pleasant Ridge Facebook page and it took off from there. Someone from Design Impact suggested I pitch the idea to People’s Liberty for a grant. This model takes the shame away. There’s no paperwork, it’s accessible, even walkable. It’s meant to be used when needed. If someone can give back, that’s great, too.

Seguin: We’re both freelancers so the idea came together really quick. Sean Mullaney, a big thinker and toy designer, has given us ideas on how to design the pantries and how to reach out to different communities.

Andrews: We have eight or nine committed pantry champions, which is the role I’ve been playing in Pleasant Ridge by advocating within the neighborhood. We just need one or two more. Our pantry locations will be Camp Washington, Walnut Hills, West End, Winton Hills, North Fairmount, Millville, Roll Hill, OTR, Lower Price Hill, and Bond Hill.

Jason Beidleman, a builder, had an idea to use old Enquirer [newspaper vending] boxes because they are waterproof and handicapped accessible. We contacted the Enquirer and they had eight. We’ve dismantled, sanded, and primed [them]. The next step is to put in two shelves and replace the Plexiglass. We’ve reached out to artists in the neighborhoods to help us customize them. We’re calling them “food bots” because they look like little robots. They should be all set by July. We’ll have a reception in May so the champions can meet each other and we can have a short training [session].

Seguin: We have chefs lined up, including ourselves, to provide simple, three-step recipes using what’s in the pantry, like black beans. We may laminate them so people can just take a picture.

People’s Pantry Cincy,

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