Free Food Stands are popping up in Webster and around the city

22 Mar

Just like Little Free Libraries, and most recently the Little “Puzzle” Library I wrote about a few weeks ago, Free Food Stands are popping up all over Webster and throughout the city, providing food and personal hygiene items to families in need. And one Webster family is doing its best to see that at least some of them never go empty.

Jamie Buss and her husband Mike first heard about the stands back in January and decided they wanted to help out.

“We went and filled one one day,” she said, “and saw the incredible need there was. We started promoting it on Facebook…. It was incredibly well received by our friends alone.” Donations started coming in, which allowed Jamie and Mike to start filling more and more pantries.

Right now there are 27 Free Food Stands scattered throughout Rochester, in the city as well as suburban towns including Greece, Penfield, Perinton and Phillips Village in Webster. Jamie and Mike fill six to eight of them every week, with donated items and ones they’ve purchased outright.

After a stop at the Public Market to purchase fresh produce, “We make a weekend of it,” Jamie said. “Every stand we fill on Sundays is empty when we get there.”

Jamie and Mike’s efforts received a huge boost recently when the food pantry project was taken under the wing of The Goodness Initiative, a Rochester-based grassroots organization which Jamie co-founded several years ago with Colleen Bedford. Now that the Goodness Initiative is involved, Jamie said, they hope to be able to expand the program even farther.

But they’ll need more volunteers and more donations to do that. This is where you come in.

Donations of food, toiletry and cleaning items are needed to keep the food stands stocked. Fortunately, there are a couple of easy, no-contact ways you can help out. For starters, check out The Goodness Initiative Facebook page for a wish list of needed items, and a list of where all the free food stands currently are located.

Now, here’s how you can help:

  • Purchase any items on the wish list and bring them to 839 Bridle Lane, Webster. There are bins on the front porch for contactless drop-offs 24/7.
  • Purchase items from their Amazon Wish List and have them delivered directly to them.
  • Make a monetary donation and they’ll purchase the items they need most. Click here for a paypal link.
  • Schedule your own donation drive! You can either drop the collected items off, or fill any of the listed stands on your own.

Rest assured, your donations will go where they are most needed. That might not be Webster (the Phillips Village pantry is often full), but as Jamie explains, that really shouldn’t matter.

“It’s a community effort of helping out your neighbors,” Jamie said. “When you see a need you fill that need. It doesn’t matter what stand you fill. As long as people are doing the work there are others that are not going hungry.”

“We are happy to drive all over to do the work, because all people are worthy of basic necessities, no matter their zip code.”

The Free Food Stand in Phillips Village is not the only Little Free Pantry in town. Four others, hosted by church congregations, are located at the Webster Baptist Church on South Ave, Immanuel Lutheran Church on West Main St., the United Church of Christ on Klem Rd., and St. Martin’s Church on Bay Rd. Like the Free Food Stands, these pantries encourage a “take what you need, leave what you can” philosophy.

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One Response to “Free Food Stands are popping up in Webster and around the city”

  1. Pat Sweetland March 22, 2021 at 8:40 am #

    I know the Buss family and they are awesome! I would like to help! I will check out the website! Thanks for sharing!

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