How One Arkansas Woman’s Hack for Feeding the Hungry Became an International Movement
Ladies First highlights women and girls who are making the world better for the rest of us.
We all know Little Free Libraries are an awesome idea — take a book, leave a book. What’s not to love? That’s what Jessica McClard, 41, thought, so she expanded the concept to include essential pantry items for anyone who might need them.
For those of you who don’t have a Little Free Library in your ‘hood, the concept is simple: Anyone can set up a little box outside their home or business. Then it’s up to people walking by to stock or snatch up reading material.
McClard decided to instead invite neighbors to donate canned food, school supplies, and personal hygiene goods. Or really whatever people wanted to leave.
She put the first one outside her church in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Personal hygiene items like diapers, pads and tampons, and toilet paper are most in demand. Turnover is around 30 minutes and people from miles around come to take advantage of the free stuff.
“That suggests to me that are more people on the demand side than the supply side,” McClard told ABC News.
After her story went viral, Little Free Pantries began popping up all over the world and it became its own small movement.
“It’s been clear to me that for me, the need to give and to do something is significant,” said McClard. “I’m hearing that from other people too. There are people who want to help and do something and they just don’t know what to do.”
After all, it’s a fairly simple and concrete way to help your neighbors. In middle-class areas, neighbors can grab whatever they’ve run out of. In high poverty areas, the pantries can keep food insecurity at bay. And unlike regular food banks, the pantry is always open.
Most of all, McClard hopes that her project “helps someone who may be in a tight spot and to let them know they’re not alone.”
Do you think Little Free Pantries are a good idea? Have you seen one in your city? Tell us @BritandCo.
(Photos via The Little Free Pantry website)