Little Free Pantry is putting a twist on community based food donation services. It is a convenient and friendly way for people to anonymously and freely donate and receive food.
How it works
Small, usually homemade structures are built, filled with nonperishable food and household items and then set up in conspicuous locations throughout a community. The little pantries are stocked by kind hearted neighbors who may have a surplus of items in their home or who simply want to do something to help out their community. The ultimate goal of the project is to ensure that everyone in the vicinity has enough to eat and access to basic necessities.
Jessica McClard of Fayetteville, Arkansas is credited as creator and unofficial founder of this movement. The Little Free Pantry has made quite a stir in the Fayetteville area and the idea is beginning to spread elsewhere. In an interview with a local news station, McClard explained why her vision is gaining ground so quickly:
“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.”
Eliminating the stigma and building community
Little Free Pantry is not intended to just help the impoverished and needy, but it is intended to bring the community together. The pantries are entirely community run and are open to all 24/7. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to take and donate items to the pantry as they see fit, eliminating the stigma and shame associated with receiving food from donation sources.
“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…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.
Assisting in this amazing and kindhearted movement is simple. Below are a few ways you can assist:
- Donate: when you do your regular grocery shopping, simply pick up a few extra nonperishable items and add them to your local Little Free Pantry.
- Spread the word: tell others about this project.
- Start your own Little Free Pantry: If you are interested in starting a pantry in your area visit the Little Free Pantry website for information on getting started, great tips, how to’s and answers to frequently asked questions.