Peoria Porch Pantry helps out people in need in the community, organizers hope to expand

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A Peoria couple is helping their neighbors through their porch pantry. It’s filled with food and donations for free.

Kelli and Charles Martin say they are here to help the community, and nothing will stop them.

“Hunger doesn’t take days off. Hunger is not Monday through Friday. Hunger is here on Saturday and Sunday. Hunger is here on holidays. Hunger’s here when other places shut down, where you could normally get food, but now you can’t.”

Kelli martin

Kelli Martin and her husband Charles started the porch pantry back in March when the pandemic first hit. Martin says she noticed many of her neighbors didn’t have easy access to groceries because some stores faced shortages or ran out of essentials. Martin says she took to Facebook and asked her friends for food donations. She said since then, the community support has been non-stop.

‘They filled my entire truck front to back,” said Martin.

Martin says it started out as just a table with some non-perishable food, but community members have donated and filled the porch with food and other items.

“There’s a lot of good people here,” Charles Martin said about the Peoria community.

Martin says the porch pantry was recently ransacked.

“We removed the clothing area because the ransacking doesn’t usually happen with the food, just with the clothes,” Martin said.

The Martins will not let this dampen their spirits, and even said they never feel unsafe allowing the community access to their home. In fact, they hope to expand the porch pantry into a non-profit organization.

Martin hopes to provide a place that feels like home, where community members in need can shower or do laundry for free, along with the food pantry. The couple is looking at locations and possible grants for funding.

“I think right now, we are more aware than we have ever been about the needs of our neighbors and the ways that we can help take care of them,” Martin said.

Donations can be made at the porch pantry at 1122 N Ellis St. More information can also be found on their Facebook page.

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