Common Cupboard is a food pantry established in 2006 by Common Heart. It is a community resource powered by a cadre of caring people reaching out to serve neighbors in need. More than 350 hungry families each month receive about a week’s worth of groceries delivered with love by someone who cares.
We do some things a little different than most food pantries. It has a lot to do with why we got started and our desire to equip people to serve, hands on.
Common Cupboard came about because we regularly came into contact with people who could use a little help. For whatever reason – possibly a family crisis, unemployment or illness – they had difficulty meeting their needs. Often they were single parents or people who due to illness or a fixed income just needed a little help. You know people like that too. We helped out the best we could by grabbing an extra bag of groceries at the store or going to our own pantries or cupboards and giving what we could to help. It dawned on us that if we pooled our resources of money and groceries, along with donations from community businesses and organizations, we could help a lot more folks and equip others to reach out through active kindness too.
Why do we deliver groceries to homes rather than having those in need come to a central location? While distribution from a central location is convenient, we feel that it sets up an institutional mentality that we desire to avoid. By visiting people, developing relationships and seeing needs first hand, we can make a difference in a way that we couldn’t from an institutional approach. Using a “central distribution” model would not facilitate this as well as visiting families in their homes. It may take time and energy, but we believe it is worth it.
Because Common Cupboard has been designed to facilitate personal service, this does not happen in the usual institutional way. Our delivery program is based on relationships. So, generally one of our volunteers or church partners finds out about a family in need. We provide groceries to them to serve this hungry family for as long as the need exists. It is rare that we add a family to a delivery route directly. Basically, this practical demonstration of God’s Love happens because someone cares enough to personally deliver to a neighbor in need.
We believe that people helping people has much more positive potential than an organization or agency giving handouts. Because of this philosophy, we want to keep Common Cupboard in the background and invisible to those receiving our assistance. We enable faith communities and individuals to reach out into the community without having to “reinvent the wheel.” This is why we reach out to local churches to be part of Common Cupboard. We are able to help them equip their own members to reach out personally with love and kindness.
Volunteers, churches, businesses and other organizations in our community help out! Some help by organizing food drives. This is a favorite of church youth groups, schools and homeowners associations. Other individuals and businesses give tax-deductible financial gifts. We rescue food from grocery stores and other food-based businesses in our community that would otherwise be thrown away. We also are an agency of Second Harvest of Metrolina, our region’s food bank. About 25% of our groceries come from Second Harvest.