Last Call: Little Free Libraries have become Little Free Food Banks

A Little Free Food Pantry outside Washington, DC
A Little Free Food Pantry outside Washington, DC
Photo: The Washington Post (Getty Images)
Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

My neighborhood is full of Little Free Libraries, and over the years, I’ve probably taken far more than my fair share of books from them—though I’ve always been careful to cull my own shelves several times a year to make up for it. Most recently, while walking my dog the other morning, I rescued a copy of a post–World War II travelogue of Czechoslovakia and a translation of a medieval French romance by Chrétien de Troyes that I’d read and enjoyed back in college. My most prized score, however, remains a copy of Sweet Valley High #100: The Evil Twin, the volume all Sweet Valley experts agree is the greatest achievement in the entire Sweet Valley universe. That’s the beauty of a Little Free Library: you never know what wonders you’ll find.

A few weeks ago, someone began putting canned and paper goods inside the Little Free Library nearest to me along with a sign urging anyone in need to take them. (It probably goes without saying that they did not need to be replaced.) Initially I thought that this was part of this Little Free Library’s legacy of having been built by the owners of a hippie restaurant and grocery store that have now been demolished. But now I’ve learned that this is part of a national movement that also includes this public refrigerator in Brooklyn. Or at least other people and other cities had the same idea simultaneously and are all trying to take credit for it.

Whatever the case, it’s nice that people who have a few extra cans of soup or rolls of toilet paper but not enough to warrant a special trip to the nearest food bank are looking out for their neighbors. And maybe someday, those neighbors will have their own cans of soup to donate.


What sorts of charitable food-sharing endeavors are happening in your neighborhood?

Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.

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Little Free Libraries are generally present in upper-middle class affluent neighborhoods, so I’m not really sure how useful these are for those who actually need access to a food bank for legitimate reasons. Otherwise it’s just a means for Karen to trade eggs for sugar with Nance across the street, while avoiding face to face contact.