If you live in a city and have taken a stroll around your neighborhood, chances are you’ve come across a ‘Little Free Library’. The uniquely-shaped fixtures are actually becoming quite commonplace, and it is estimated that there are now over 25,000 of them in 70 different countries!
The movement has taken off because it allows anyone to take a book and leave a book, creating a super-efficient – and local – swap that benefits all involved.
If you loved that idea, you’re sure to adore what residents in Arkansas are responsible for starting. ‘Little Free Pantries’ are like a spin-off of ‘Little Free Libraries’, but instead of books, they offer non-perishable food items to anyone who might need a snack or some food to get through the day. Shareable relays that anyone who feels inspired can leave household goods, including toothpaste, garbage bags, deodorant and toilet paper, or food items that aren’t likely to go bad anytime soon.
The pantries are helping to ensure no neighbor goes hungry in this rough economy.
Jessica McClard of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was the first individual to be credited with starting a ‘Little Free Pantry’.
Not long after folks caught on to the project, she told a local television program:
“I think it’s about community and people’s need to want to participate in something that’s actionable and manageable and I think this is that. I’d hoped that it would be something that would speak to people and it has been and that’s pretty special and overwhelming and I feel really grateful and hopeful that it will help people.”
Since the project started, ‘Little Free Pantries’ have popped up in plenty of other locations. GoodNewsNetwork relays that a spin-off organization was even founded off of the idea, and it’s known as the Blessing Box. Run by a Christian church in Ohio, the group has built and filled their own set of boxes to help anyone living in poverty.
“How I’d love to have it function is that it would not necessarily be a place for people who are really in need, but just for anyone. On the last day of school, I put some bubbles and jump ropes, and sidewalk chalk, and balloons in the pantry. I had to encourage the parents to send their kids there because they didn’t think it was for them.”
The wonderful thing about community-run ‘Little Free Pantries’ is that they are open 24/7 to the public, whereas food pantries are only accessible at certain times, as well as have a host of requirements.
“I feel that the Pantry could potentially be for everyone. I took something out of it and took it home because I wanted to know what that felt like. It felt really good. It felt like community,” said McClane.
Make Your Own ‘Little Food Pantry’
You also have the option of “being the change” in your own town or city by building a Little Food Pantry, spreading the word, and helping others out by sharing your surplus.
Plans to do so can be found Googling “Little Free Library plans”. A bounty of specifications, measurements, blueprints, and tips will help you – and other philanthropists – create a pantry that can prevent anyone in the local area from going hungry or feeling unloved.
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