INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Asking for help, especially when you have a family and in need of food, can be tough.
So, Fort Osage School District took a different approach to helping families in the Independence area. It all started with an empty building.
"They started dreaming of how they could impact the community, what would be beneficial for the folks that live out in this part of town," said Bruce Bailey with Community Services League. "There is no stigma. There is nothing embarrassing about coming in and worked just like clock work."
The Mid-Continent Public Library and Community Service League decided to create a library and food pantry all-in-one.
"It was very unusual when we first started to hear about it with a library. We just couldn't imagine how it would work," Bailey said.
Organizers did lots of research to see if there is anything like this in the nation, but haven't been able to find one. The location in Independence is the first of its kind.
"I've asked and I am not sure there is a food pantry and library operating in the U.S. or Canada," Steven Potter with the Mid-Continent Library said.
Bailey said Independence has families who always need help with getting food.
"We see a thousand families a month agency-wide," he said.
The pantry is the only source of food some people have.
"It allows them to put money towards that utility bill, towards daycare or other expenses. This gives them a little added safety net," Bailey said.
Since June, the library-pantry has checked out more than 1,000 books and seen the number of people using the pantry double each week.
Leaders with the duo said more cities should look at doing something similar.
"The thing I would always encourage other libraries is to take a good, hard look at your surrounding community. Figure out what that need is. For us, it was a food pantry and collaborating with the community service league," Potter said. "Don't renovate the wheel and try something outside the book."
The library-pantry is located at 18109 E. 12th St. N. in Independence.
If you are looking to donate food supplies, they take can goods, perishable items if they are in good shape and boxed goods.