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Oxford’s Pay-It-Forward Pocket Pantry more than free snacks

Drawing inspiration from a recent article about turning old newspaper racks into mini neighborhood food pantries, Oxford Community Market Director Betsy Chapman decided to bring the idea to Oxford.

After receiving an old rack donated by the Oxford EAGLE earlier this week, a volunteer with Food Corps reached out to the Lafayette High Art Club, which is now repainting and rejuvenating the rack to be made into Oxford’s first Pay-It-Forward Pocket Pantry.

Once finished, the Pocket Pantry will be placed somewhere in Oxford that is easily accessible to children and stocked with healthy, non-perishable snacks and information about the Oxford Community Market and its outreach programs. Girl Scout Troop 123 is planning a food drive in the near future to help keep the Pocket Pantry stocked.

“The Pay-It-Forward Pocket Pantry is just a very small way to show that we care about our friends and neighbors, but we hope it serves a larger purpose,” Chapman said. “We want this to be a conversation starter, a reminder that we have families in this community who face food insecurity every day, which is such a lonely, invisible problem.

“Maybe this is a way to bring the issue to light and talk about how we can work together to improve access to healthy food for families in our community.”

Chapman said she would like to see healthy snacks in the Pocket Pantry like granola bars, dried fruits, whole wheat crackers or popcorn.

She said she hopes to have a location for the Pocket Pantry selected in the next week, and will be working with local churches, businesses and other organizations to adopt a month for donating snacks.

The Community Market already collects fresh produce that’s delivered to low-income families.

“Once the market reopens in April, this will give us another opportunity to reach out to the community,” she said.

For more information on how to donate to the Pocket Pantry, call 662-816-7413 or send an email to oxcmkt@gmail.com.