Earlier this year, a Little Free Library popped up near a busy square downtown. We’ve loved borrowing books from the small streetside box and also donating our own so that someone else can have free reading material. Little Free Pantries (LFP) are beginning to grow in popularity as well, and they serve a noble and functional cause: providing food, personal care basics, and other necessities for those in need. The Little Free Pantry isn’t meant to fulfill the needs of an entire community or replace existing aid organizations such as soup kitchens, but instead offers around-the-clock availability of a few very important essentials and plants seeds of kindness and non-judgment as well as a sense of solidarity and community.
Another important distinction of the LFP from services such as food pantries is that the casual, give-and-take quality of the operation erases certain stigma. People (especially children) often feel too proud to get food stamps or go to a soup kitchen, but walking up to a LFP and grabbing a jar of peanut butter is doable and without shame. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area that doesn’t suffer from food insecurity, homelessness, or poverty, the Little Free Pantry can be used for surplus items such as healthy snacks for kids on-the-go or even kitchen basics that you may have gone overboard for at the store. Little Pantry Founder Jessica McClard (pictured above) even suggests contributing bubbles or art supplies as a way to encourage kids to play.
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Little Free Pantries have only been around since May, with the first constructed in Arkansas, but the mission has been embraced by religious groups and community organizations. The Little Free Pantry website offers plenty of help and guidance for starting and supplying your own Little Free Pantry. I love the idea of starting one near a school and then having various grades take turns stocking the LFP as a school project. What a lovely way to spread kindness freely among our communities!
Images via The Little Free Pantry’s Facebook page