The cupboard is stocked in Nobleford’s Centennial Park in southern Alberta.

Youth members of DO Crew Jr. unveiled their latest project, a little free pantry, which encourages the community to take a food item if they need, or leave one for someone else.

“It feels pretty good to see what we’ve done now that it’s actually happening,”  DO Crew Jr. member Sydney Vandenoek said.

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The new installment called “Pantry of Hope” officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

Identifying access to food resources as a need within the town, the DO Crew decided to create the pantry, even organizing a food drive to help fill the shelves.

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Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) officials believe the new structure creates availability for people facing food insecurity.

“Being quite a ways away from any of the bigger cities… if a family is struggling to even get gas in their vehicle, they can’t make it to those other food supports,” FCSS youth program leader Stacey Vandenhoek said.

“By having something accessible they can walk to is a really big step for the community.”

A youth-led initiative, Nobleford Mayor Bill Oudshoorn feels it’s an important experience for the DO Crew members.

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“We can get the kids involved in things they can give back with,” Oudshoorn said. “It’s a great leadership thing. The kids can be in control and design and execute it.”

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The Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta funded the project through its youth in action grant program. The group provided $1,500 to help build and supply the pantry.

“We know that lots of youth have great ideas but they don’t always have the means to bring these ideas to fruition, so that’s what this program is about,” executive director Charleen Davidson said.

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Davidson says supporting youth can encourage further humanitarian efforts.

“It’s not a dream, it becomes a reality and a tangible goal,” Davidson said. “It also hopefully inspires them one day when they’re older to give back to their community in other ways.”

Anyone can access the pantry, which is located on the north side of Centennial Park.

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