It is second nature for Lisa Richards to open her own cupboards to help feed people in need and today she threw the doors open on the Hikurangi Community Pantry.

The brightly painted, supersized pantry will be a never-locked, ''help yourself'' facility in Hikurangi's main street, outside the Guyco factory. The cupboard itself was donated by Bunnings Whāngarei.

''The community pantry will operate 24/7 with the hopes and guidelines of 'give what you can, take what you need','' Richards said.

She, helpers and businesses who donated items stocked up on food and household goods to put in the pantry for its opening. The invitation is out for others to drop off anything they can give at the site.


Richards said she hopes the pantry will fill up as fast as it empties, and she also hopes people will respect the community facility as being for people who need what it offers.
''There's a lot of hunger and hardship around here,'' she said.

Despite some concerns raised by other helpers and community members, she made the call to have the pantry unlocked at all times.

''It's about food being available, not policing it,'' she said.

''People with nothing in their cupboards and no money are just as likely to need food in the middle of the night.''

Thrilled with the help she's had from individuals, including her friend Joy White, Bunnings, Guyco and other businesses to get the pantry up and running, Richards is also over the moon about the mural Whāngarei artist Rodrigo Rozas painted on the pantry.

Richards, who is involved in Lovesoup, a group providing meals for homeless people, is also known for making hundreds of school lunches for Whāngarei and Hikurangi children, inspired by the hardship she faced when raising her four children.

When her efforts were written about in the Advocate in April last year, she received lots support and donations.

Now she is hoping the same generosity will keep the Hikurangi Community Pantry stocked up. The pantry will be officially open at 1.30pm today.