A Small-Town Diner With a Big Heart

Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, more and more people experience food insecurity. When restaurant owner Chris heard the story of a free mini-food pantry that had to be taken down because of complaints, he decided to take action. He teamed up with long-time patron and Random Acts Writing Manager Becky Houseman to save the food pantry in Nipomo, California.

The Mayor’s Place

Most Saturday mornings, Becky and her family can be found at “The Mayor’s Place”, enjoying a hearty breakfast. The Mayor’s Place is a small-town diner and is owned by Chris and his wife Gina.
One of those Saturdays, Chris told Becky the story of a patron, who recently came in with a real bummer of a story: They had built a “Free Pantry” and put it up in front of their house so that people could leave and take food, books, toiletries — anything they may need. Disappointingly, their neighbors complained about the “riff-raff” that such a pantry would draw. In the end, they had to take the pantry down.
But restaurant owner Chris was not having any of that. He told the patron to bring the pantry to the diner so he could put it up, front and center.

Making the Pantry Waterproof

Unfortunately, the mini-food pantry was not resistant to weather conditions such as rain or wind. Becky and her father gave the pantry a good check over to see which materials they would need. They then bought sealant for the wood, rubber seals for the doors, and some other materials so Chris could weatherproof the pantry.

Filling the Pantry

Now that the pantry was weatherproof, the last and most important thing left was the content. Becky stocked up on some needed items like non-perishable food, toiletries, blankets, and ponchos. Afterward, she went back to the Mayor’s Place to fill the pantry with all her goods.

A Strong Community

Becky and her family visit the Mayor’s Place regularly, which allows Becky to check how the food pantry is doing. Chris told Becky that two weeks after they installed the pantry, someone took a donated sleeping bag, so Becky made sure to restock that.

But it is not only Chris, Gina, and Becky restocking the pantry. Other members of the community and customers of the Mayor’s Place contribute as well.

This act of kindness was a step out of Becky’s comfort zone, but she was glad she did it. She also loved to see the community of Nipomo bonding over the pantry to help those in need. She thought it was fantastic that Chris saw something he could do to make the world a little better. He acted and had faith things would work out. The world could use more of that.

Do you have an idea for your own act of kindness? Contact your Regional Representative for more information. And feel free to nominate your local COVID-19 relief organization for our Random Acts Support Program! Or head over to our Random Acts Support Network for more resources.