Brooke and Ron - Aplington Little Free Pantry Captains
For Ron, the Director of Transportation at Iowa Select Farms and his wife, Brooke, volunteering to maintain the Aplington Little Free Pantry has become a family effort. The couple and their four kids work together to care for one of our newest Little Free Pantries in their small town.
The pantry was installed in June 2021 right in front of the Aplington-Parkersburg Middle School and features images of farm animals, rural landscapes and unique Aplington area landmarks, all in celebration of the connection between farming and strong communities. It’s fitting then, that when deciding to become Little Free Pantry Captains, a big part of the family’s decision stemmed from their love of Aplington’s tight-knit community.
“We have a such a good community in Aplington and in Parkersburg, so anything we could do to help the community we wanted to do,” said Brooke. “It’s a good feeling to be able to help others out, it’s so worth it.”
Because the pantry is located right in front of the middle school, Brooke drives by it often when dropping off and picking up the kids. This gives her a close look at just how often the pantry is used.
“Sometimes when I go to the school, I see kids picking stuff out from it, and it just makes me happy to know that they are getting use out of it,” said Brooke. “They get to pick out things they need that they might not otherwise get which is so great.”
Little Free Pantries are designed to supplement existing hunger relief efforts in rural communities by offering emergency resources like snacks, food, diapers and children's care products in a location that’s accessible 24/7. In Aplington, that constant access is essential to helping those that might otherwise go hungry.
“I would definitely say there is a real need in our community. The fact that it is there all the time makes a big difference when our food pantry here is only open once a month,” explained Brooke. “Having something available every day is such an important thing in our community.”
It’s clear that the small gesture of establishing and maintaining this Little Free Pantry makes a big difference in the Aplington community, and it wouldn’t be possible without the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation alongside Ron and Brooke who are essential to carrying out the Foundation’s mission to fight food insecurity in Homegrown Iowa communities.
“This project says something wonderful about Iowa Select Farms. They are so good about giving back to everyone, not just their own people, but everyone in the communities where their employees live and work,” said Brooke. “From projects like this pantry to the pork donations, the coupon donations, the military support and everything else, they really do all they can to give back. That makes a difference. I’m just really proud to be a part of one of the many projects they have.”