Free food pantries have been popping up over the past year in Kitsap County to help those who suffer from food insecurity, especially during COVID-19.
“These pantries supplement food banks and other assistance programs and are increasingly popular because they are open 24/7 and are located in neighborhoods so that people without cars can access them and can be visited anonymously,” Mary Glysteen of Kingston said. “It turns out that there are several little free pantries in North Kitsap with some new ones underway.”
Glysteen maintains one of the pantries, located on Kingston Road in the Arness Park neighborhood.
“I started out with a little free library, and then about a year and half ago I found out there was someone living in the woods near my house so my neighbor and I started putting food in the bottom shelf and from there we moved up so now there’s two compartments full of food,” Glysteen said.
The individual living near Glysteen’s home eventually found housing, but she said the pantry is still frequented often.
Glysteen checks the pantry every day to see if it needs to be restocked.
“Some days, very little is missing, and then sometimes its almost completely bare. There is a sign on the bottom that says take what you need, give what you can. I think people have been really respectful about wanting to share,” she said.
Glysteen also noted that the pandemic has impacted how often she must restock the pantry.
“When the stimulus payments came out there would be less usage. But, for example, last night, a lot of stuff that I knew was there was gone this morning,” Glysteen said.
There are several food pantries throughout King County. Some are run by individuals like Glysteen, while others are run by organizations like Fishline.
There are two food pantries in Poulsbo, two in Suquamish, one in Hansville and soon to be one in Indianola and four in Kingston.
Kingston Cares, a volunteer organization looking to end homelessness and poverty in North Kitsap, recently voted to build two food pantries in the Kingston area where they will join both Glysteen’s pantry and the pantry at Maine and Bannister streets near Kola Kole Park.
Poulsbo’s free food pantries are located at the entrance to Fishlines Marketplace on Viking Avenue and in the Whitney Glenn neighborhood at Megger Circle.