These DIY Food Pantries are Feeding the Community

During the pandemic, Lindsay Manolakos saw the lines at food pantries growing longer. It was clear that the need for food was high and she wanted to help, so she created a unique way to feed the community: she builds “Purple Pantries” and places them in her neighborhood as places where people and leave and take food for free.

“We don’t really rely on each other. We’re all conditioned to not ask,” she says. “But, I think if we did, there would not be as much suffering as there currently is.”

Video Transcript

Meet Lindsay: neighbor

(Lindsay sawing wood in a basement)

Lindsay Manolakos: I was just biking around with my kids, and I saw this very long line of people and it was a food pantry line. I’ve never seen them that long, and it was just because of the pandemic. People couldn’t get food. And then I see the little libraries that are all around, and I just kind of thought, “Why can’t we just put food in those?” So I started making these. Here we go.

When the pandemic hit, Lindsay built food pantries for her neighbors.

Brooklyn, New York

(Lindsay driving in a car)

Here we are at our first Purple Pantry of our Purple Pantry tour. They’re not sophisticated, but I don’t care. It’s a box. It holds food. It stands up. It’s fine.

(Purple Pantry box along the snowy sidewalk)

(Lindsay putting food into Purple Pantry)

One woman said she just sort of stumbled upon it one day on her way home. She had gone out looking for a job and couldn’t have one and wasn’t quite sure how she was going to stretch her dinner for her and her elderly parents. She stumbled on this pantry, and there was pasta and sauce and there was some veggies in there and she was just like, “This just changed my whole day.” And I know these don’t address the entirety of that situation, obviously, but a little bit can do something for someone, somewhere.

(Lindsay building Purple Pantry)

There can definitely be a stigma. I don’t know how I would feel going to a food bank. You want to think that you would do anything for your kids if your kids are hungry. But the other good thing about this is it’s totally anonymous. Nobody knows who’s dropping stuff off, nobody knows who’s picking stuff up. Your neighbor might be suffering from food insecurity, and you would have no idea. But if you throw some food in there and then they can pick it up, that’s dinner for the night, and they’re good to go.

(Lindsay painting Purple Pantry with her kids)

We don’t really rely on each other. We’re all conditioned to not ask. But, I think if we did, there would not be as much suffering as there currently is.

How does it look Pickleen?

Lindsay’s daughter: Good.

Lindsay: Good? Are we done or did you miss a spot?

(Lindsay paints on the box: “Tiny Purple Pantry — Give what you can, take what you need.”)

My hope was that it sort of opened people’s eyes up to, “I have plenty, I don’t need to hoard it.” We live in abundance and we can share that abundance. We all live on this block. Let’s take care of each other.

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