KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Northland man is pouring the love he has for his late wife into a food pantry in an under-served community, but he’s not going it alone.
Ernie Martel encourages seniors like him, to help their community. He started his own ‘Little Food Pantry’ near the City Park in the North Moor area.
Martel said he chose this spot to serve low-income families.
“We don’t call it charity, we call it seniors giving back,” Martel said.
His inspiration is his late wife, June. They were married 64 years until she passed away 3 ½ years ago. Now, he’s giving back to celebrate her life.
Several friends from his retirement community have joined his fight against hunger. They stock the pantry with peanut butter, noodles and canned goods.
“It’s taken off beyond my expectations,” Martel said. “I’ve got a handful of seniors helping, about 150 people who live where I live, and those 150 people keep this going.”
Martel said he’s 88 years young.
In the last 20 months, Martel said they’ve given away more than 10,000 pounds of free food.
Martel said it costs about $450 to stock the shelves each month. They do get groceries at a discounted price, so that helps a little, Martel said.
“People are just having trouble making ends meet,” Connie Hull said. “It’s not a lot that we do, but it’s a little and every little bit helps.”
This week, a man told Martel’s son the pantry held him over, while he was between jobs.
A woman also said she visits the food pantry several times a week.
“She said, ‘f it wasn’t for this food pantry, I’d probably starve to death’. So, it’s things like that, that makes me think it’s a blessing,” Martel said.
Martel said he was blessed to have June as his wife.
He said she had a big heart and the Little Food Pantry honors her legacy.
Martel said he keeps her ashes in his room. “I talk to her every night. I tell her if I’ve had a good day or a bad day. This is a good day.”
If you would like to support the Little Food Pantry email Martel here: firstname.lastname@example.org