Vandals target free 'People's Pantry' in Northside neighborhood

NORTHSIDE, OH (FOX19) - A project intended to help residents in need is now being targeted by vandals.

The "People's Pantry" near Chase Elementary School is one of 11 pantries throughout the Cincinnati area. It's made up of non-perishable food items that are donated by people in the community. Anyone who is in need is welcome to take the free products from the pantry at any time.

A group of students in Chase's "MORE – Men. Organized. Respectful. Educated." mentor group put the Northside pantry together and wanted it to be part of their lasting legacy.

"They wanted to serve a purpose and a need in the community," Rodger Horton, a teacher at Chase, said.

The motto of the People's Pantry is "Take what you need. Leave what you can." However, FOX19 NOW has learned that someone is taking things from the Northside pantry and using them for vandalism.

"It's disrespectful to the community. It's disrespectful to the people who donated, and it's just a big disappointment," Lisa Andrews, who created "People's Pantry Cincy," said.

The person responsible has taken items from the pantry and then dumped or poured out whatever contents were inside in the surrounding area. The wasted food and trash has been discovered around the Chase School parking lot.

"Food is a resource. It's supposed to be eaten and shared and not wasted," Andrews said.

Andrews said that the pantry seems to be truly helping the community, so she is hoping that whoever is responsible for the vandalism will stop and will only come back to get something to eat or to donate an item.

"I want the program to grow," Andrews said. "I don't want it to go to waste, and I certainly want it to flourish and not be vandalized by it's been."

If you would like to learn more about the People's Pantry program or if you would like to find out where the other pantries are located, you can visit the program's Facebook page.

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