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Dover key spouses open pantry, aid Total Force Airmen amidst COVID-19

Lynne Otis, 436th Wing Staff Agency key spouse, and Jessica Hammer, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron key spouse, pose for a photo in the newly established food pantry at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Jan. 20, 2021. Located in the Airman’s Attic, the food pantry was created by Otis and Hammer in an effort to alleviate financial burdens Airmen and their families may face during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cydney Lee)

Lynne Otis, 436th Wing Staff Agency key spouse, and Jessica Hammer, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron key spouse, pose for a photo in the newly established food pantry at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Jan. 20, 2021. Located in the Airman’s Attic, the food pantry was created by Otis and Hammer in an effort to alleviate financial burdens Airmen and their families may face during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cydney Lee)

Lynne Otis, 436th Wing Staff Agency key spouse, shelves shampoo at the Airman’s Attic food pantry on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Jan. 20, 2021. Located in the Airman’s Attic, the food pantry was created by Otis and Hammer in an effort to alleviate financial burdens Airmen and their families may face during the COVID-19 pandemic.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cydney Lee)

Lynne Otis, 436th Wing Staff Agency key spouse, shelves shampoo at the Airman’s Attic food pantry on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Jan. 20, 2021. Located in the Airman’s Attic, the food pantry was created by Otis and Hammer in an effort to alleviate financial burdens Airmen and their families may face during the COVID-19 pandemic.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cydney Lee)

Created by key spouses, Lynne Otis and Jessica Hammer, the Dover Food Pantry encourages Airmen to “take what they need” and “give what they can” at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Jan. 20, 2021. Located in the Airman’s Attic, the food pantry was created by Otis and Hammer in an effort to alleviate financial burdens Airmen and their families may face during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cydney Lee)

Created by key spouses, Lynne Otis and Jessica Hammer, the Dover Food Pantry encourages Airmen to “take what they need” and “give what they can” at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Jan. 20, 2021. Located in the Airman’s Attic, the food pantry was created by Otis and Hammer in an effort to alleviate financial burdens Airmen and their families may face during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cydney Lee)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --

The COVID-19 pandemic financially impacted many service members and their families across the U.S. Two women on Dover Air Force Base aimed to alleviate that strain by establishing a food pantry at the Dover Air Force Base Airman’s Attic.

Together, Jessica Hammer, the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron key spouse, and Lynne Otis, the 436th Wing Staff Agency key spouse, developed the idea for the Dover Pantry after witnessing the pandemic’s impact on the livelihood of Team Dover families.

“We realized that there are a lot of families who have lost their second source of income… [and] that are paying for additional child care right now that weren’t paying before. We felt like the need was there,” said Otis.

Otis and Hammer partnered with Operation Warm Heart to purchase the pantry’s first stock of goods. Operation Warm Heart is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing emergency financial relief, morale building and quality-of-life enhancements to military members and their families.

The Dover Pantry is available to all active-duty and reserve Airmen and their families, regardless of rank, who do not currently reside in the dorms. In addition to nonperishable food items, the pantry also offers household essentials such as diapers, shampoo and deodorant.

“[Families] won't go hungry if they need help,” said Hammer. “They know what's here, which builds morale amongst each other.”

For Hammer, the pantry represents more than just the essential items it can provide.

“It's the sense of community. When one's down, the other helps reach down and lift the other one up,” said Hammer. “We've all been there.”

The pantry is open Mondays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Any Airmen unable to make these times can contact their first sergeant for access after hours.

“Typically, a first sergeant is going to be aware of a family in need before we are,” said Otis. “We wanted to make sure that although we have limited [operating] hours, that it was available at all times.”

The Dover Pantry appreciates all donated items but specifically needs diapers and breakfast items. Donations can be dropped off during pantry operating hours. In an effort to keep the food pantry open as often as possible, the Airman’s Attic is requesting additional volunteer support. For more information, contact DoverAFBAirmansattic@gmail.com.