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Orland Park Teen Creates Micro Pantry for Eagle Scout Project

ORLAND PARK, IL – Orland Park's Ryan Matchen, 18, observed three major milestones within a few days of each other. A member of Orland Park Boy Scout Troop 318, Matchen graduated from Carl Sandburg High School on May 22, 2021, completed his Eagle Scout Board of Review on May 25 and turned 18 the next day. Eagle Scout candidates must complete the process before their eighteenth birthdays.


"It definitely felt exceptionally special to have so many important events happen all at once," Matchen said. Ryan's dad, Patrick, added, "I can say that several of my gray hair beard hairs have his name on them as his 18th birthday approached and the paperwork was still being finalized."


For his Eagle Scout Service Project, Orland Park's Ryan Matchen created a micro food pantry outside of his church, Faith United Methodist, at 15101 South 80th Avenue in Orland Park. (photos by Scott Duff)

Earning the rank of Eagle Scout is an extraordinary achievement as the Boy Scouts of America reports that just eight percent of registered scouts complete the criteria. The process takes years as scouts must advance through six prior ranks, earn 21 badges with specific badges required, hold a position of responsibility within their troops and create, lead and complete an Eagle Scout Service Project.


For his service project, Matchen created a micro food pantry outside of his church, Faith United Methodist, at 15101 South 80th Avenue in Orland Park.


"I came across an article about a man named Jeff who started something in his area called a micro-pantry. He worked at a car dealership in Joliet and was able to create it on the dealership grounds," Matchen recalled. "People could take what they need without any questions asked. They didn't have to give their name – something that is required at some food banks. It's completely anonymous and it allows people in need to feel more comfortable."


The micro pantry debuted in August, 2020 and Matchen reported, "The response to my project has been overwhelming! The community collection that I initially did with the scouts yielded more than 3200 pieces donated. Family and friends also made cash donations that allowed me to purchase items that weren't donated as often, like diapers and wipes, toilet paper, soaps, toothbrushes and other hygiene products."


With its motto of "Take what you need. Leave what you can," the micro pantry's most frequent donations include canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned pastas, canned beans, soups, pasta sauces, dry pasta, rice, dry beans, macaroni and cheese, cereals, raisins, snack bars, water bottles, diapers, baby wipes, jars of baby food, baby formula, toothpaste, tooth brushes, soaps, body wash, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, socks and dog and cat food.


Ryan is the eldest of Kelly and Patrick Matchen's four children. Ryan's younger brother, Kyle, 17, is a Life Scout with Troop 318, the rank before reaching Eagle Scout. Matchen's siblings also include Sarah, 15, and Nate, 8.


"I couldn't be more proud," said Kelly Matchen, Ryan's mother. "Ryan has made me proud his whole life. There are so many important skills to have in life but the fact that Ryan is genuinely kind and a good person makes me the most proud," she said.


Echoing his wife's sentiments, Patrick added, "Ryan is very thoughtful and self aware. I'm a super proud dad and I'm looking forward to Ryan's future, encouraging his interests as he continues to learn, grow and mature."


Matchen continues to maintain the micro pantry. "We still have a decent supply of canned and dry goods from the community collection," he explained. "We keep watch as a family to make sure it's staying full with the community's help. We've also gone to other micro pantries in Homer Glen and Lockport to donate to help those communities as well."


While at Sandburg, Matchen performed with many of the school's bands, including marching, pep and jazz where he played the mellophone, French horn and trumpet. Matchen will be continuing his education at Moraine Valley Community College before transferring to an engineering school to major in biomedical engineering.


Matchen can tell that people are visiting the micro pantry both to take what they need and to donate. "When we bring supplies to restock the pantry, we'd see items that we did not put in it and we were see less items from when we left it last," he explained, adding, "It seems to have a healthy turnover of stock."





Social media users can find the micro-pantry on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by searching Micro Pantry Eagle Project. Those wanting more information can email Matchen at eagleproject2020@gmail.com. He also maintains an Amazon Wish List for the pantry at


"The micro pantry is completely anonymous and allows people in need to feel more comfortable. On the flip side, community members can add to the pantry – anything they're able to donate," Matchen said. "Everybody wins."


The Orland Park Eagle Scout added, "It's important that we all work together."

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