High school project continues to serve Decatur community

Decatur High School alumni Kate Cobb built a little food pantry for a project during her sophomore year of high school.

Four years later, Cobb’s food pantry is still in use. On Jan. 15, city of Decatur staff demonstrated their appreciation of Cobb’s efforts by placing a plaque in her honor on the food pantry.

The food pantry is located on the N. Candler Street side of Decatur Recreation Center on Sycamore Street and provides food, water, hygiene products and other goods to people in need.

“I haven’t seen it in a year, maybe two. I’m glad people are still using it and keeping it stocked,” said Cobb. “I’m happy to see it got a little makeover too.”

Cobb said when her sophomore class was assigned a community service project, her classmates on discounted lunch programs motivated her to create a food pantry in the style of a little library for her project.

“A lot of kids I went to school with were on free or discounted lunches and would also come here and hang out after school. I thought it was a good spot for it,” said Cobb. “There are also a lot of homeless people in Decatur since they closed the homeless shelter.”

Decatur Active Living staff placed a plaque on the front of the food pantry in Cobb’s honor.

According to Cobb, her experience in woodworking helped her conceive the project, but her dad did most of the construction.

“I had just taken a woodworking class and I liked it,” said Cobb. “We have free little libraries all around Decatur, and I saw an idea online to do a free little food pantry. I sketched it out, and my dad pretty much made it all.”

The food pantry has received a few improvements since Cobb created it. Local artist Jordyn White painted the box and painted a note on the side that tells what it is. City staff attached extra support to guard the pantry against vandalism; city staff also cleans and restocks the box.

“I remember crunching for the deadline, so I’m glad they redid it and added the note on it.”

Decatur Active Living Director Greg White said those who use the box have told others in need about it, and it has become a community-wide food pantry.

Kate Cobb created a food pantry as a sophomore at Decatur High School, and it’s still in use four years later thanks to efforts from city of Decatur staff. Photos by Jay Phillips

Cobb said she hopes the food pantry gaining more exposure will let those in need know where to find food and hygiene products and motivate the community to help keep it stocked.

“If you have extras in your household, preferably canned or dried, they make great donations. Hygiene products and masks would be great,” said Cobb. “I’m sure if more people know about it, it’ll be stocked all the time.”

Decatur also had a smart little library—built by Flying Nuggets robotic club—placed at Winnona Park and has plans to put additional ones in other parts of the city. City staff and community members use and maintain little libraries around the city.

White said he plans to create a map of Decatur’s food pantries and libraries to promote them and encourage the community to walk to them.

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