Members of the southeast Calgary community of Forest Lawn say there is a special place for them to give back and help each other out during these tough economic times.

A free pantry, filled with lots of different items like bread, soup and other foods, is located just outside the Eastside Victory Outreach building on 38 Street S.E.

“We wanted to do something for the community to give back, so we started the pantry. This one opened in October last year,” says team leader Grace Tessman.

The concept of the free pantry is if you’re in need of some food, you can come and take whatever you want. You can also leave some food items if you happen to have some to donate, making the pantry a sort of one-stop food bank.

Tessman says the economy has taken a toll on many Calgarians, so the pantry can help cover some costs.

“People are having a really hard time making ends meet these days just with the prices of rent, price of utilities. By the time you pay all that, you got no money for food.”

Karen Begg supports the pantry whenever she can and says since it opened last year, it’s been hard to keep it fully stocked.

“There’s such a great need out there for so many people. I think food scarcity is quite an important issue in our community and I think it’s wonderful that these fine folks set up this pantry to help their fellow neighbours and the community as a whole.”

Pete Fillion both uses and donates to the pantry on a regular basis and says he sees others around it quite often too.

“Sometimes I need bread or stuff like that and when I walk by, I check on it and make sure it’s stocked up and got some stuff in there.”

It’s not just food for humans inside the pantry either, Fillion says.

“The other day I needed some treats for my dogs and I found a box of Milk Bones in there, so I took them. My cat actually got some treats out of there, too.”

Organizers say there are plans to open more free pantries in other areas of the city. The final goal is to have one in every neighbourhood in Calgary.

(With files from Jordan Kanygin)