Local News

'Little pantry' removed, returned on whim of Macclesfield mayor

Posted November 5, 2018 5:41 p.m. EST
Updated November 5, 2018 9:23 p.m. EST

— The young woman who funded and built a tiny food pantry in the Macclesfield town commons said the new mayor there was rude to her in removing her work and offered no explanation for its return.

Courtney Dail established the “little free pantry” in 2017, upon learning that many of her neighbors were living with food insecurity.

“You have to drive probably about 10 miles just to get fresh food,” she said.

Edgecombe County is one of the most economically depressed counties in the state. In March 2017, then-mayor, Trey Lewis, and town leaders quickly approved of Dail’s plans to set up a place in town for people to pick up and drop off everything from canned food to personal hygiene items and school supplies.

But Dail went away to college at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a new mayor was elected.

Dail said Mayor Mike Keel told her he had the pantry removed because it was “ragged and being misused.”

Dail’s mother, Kathy Jones, defended her daughter’s efforts and said the removal was sudden.

“To take it down, there was not a town meeting. The mayor took it upon himself. It was his executive decision,” she said.

Jones said her daughter spent $200 of her own money to design and build the pantry.

“I work at Highway 55, so it was all of my tips,” Dail said.

As Dail spoke on Monday, town workers showed up, ready to put the “little free pantry” back in the ground. The workers said Keel was out of town, but the orders to reinstall the pantry came from him.

Dail and her family said they are thrilled, but wonder why it was removed in the first place.

“Maybe he’s putting the pantry back up because the media got a hold of this,” she said.

WRAL News attempted to contact Keel but has not heard back.