Apache Junction child creates 'community food pantry'

Posted at 11:50 AM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 19:41:49-05

APACHE JUNCTION, AZ — It was an idea that sparked out of sheer boredom for 10-year-old Kaitlyn Bryant.

"I wanted to do it because I was bored," explains Kaitlyn.

She says she was watching a TV show in which a California woman was creating a neighborhood food box and setting it outside for those in need in her community. So, not to be outdone, Kaitlyn decided to do the same.

"When Kaitlin came up with that idea, of course it was bright and early in the morning. I was like 'let Mommy have her coffee,' and she was like, 'but I need a box,'" says her mother Kimberly.

The first 'community pantry' food box came out of the family's recycling bin. Kaitlyn scrawled the words "Community Food Pantry" along with "Please don't take the box" on the cardboard, but two hours after she put out the small box filled with a few pantry staples, it was gone.

"She went to go check it and she was sad because it wasn't there anymore, and then my mom told her that it just fed someone's family," said Kaitlyn's older sister, Morgan.

With Morgan now on board, the two sisters started filling up the community food pantry every single day with non-perishable items such as soup, canned vegetables, mac-and-cheese, and pasta -- items that could be thrown together to make a quick, filling meal, explained Kimberly Bryant.

Every day the cardboard boxes along with the food kept disappearing. So, 14-year-old Morgan decided it was time to come up with a more permanent solution: a larger box made out of wood that the two girls could decorate and make their own.

"We were with my grandma shopping around and I saw the box and saw that would work- it's big enough, has a door that closes so animals cannot get inside of it. So, I decided to buy it. It was $20, I thought it was a pretty good deal," said Morgan.

Once their mother posted their story on the neighborhood website, the idea seemed to explode. Instead of finding the box empty, the girls said they found the box overflowing with items. Neighbors had been adding to their 'community food pantry'.

"I was happy," said Kaitlyn.

Kimberly says it has been an eye-opening lesson for her girls to know those who may be hungry and in need of food are not always homeless. They can also be your own neighbors. It has also been a lesson in "community" for the whole family.

"It's just been bringing everyone together. I think at times like this it's important to stick together as a community and help those we can help," said Kimberly.

The girls' 'community food pantry' is located in the Mining Camp neighborhood off of Nodak and Val Vista in Apache Junction.

"I want people to take the food, not the box though," said Kaitlyn.