COVID-19

As food insecurity grows during COVID-19, Little Free Pantries flourish

Sue Carpenter Jul 16, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Deborah Binder of Edmonds, Washington, set up a Little Free Pantry in her yard to help food-insecure neighbors. Courtesy Deborah Binder
COVID-19

As food insecurity grows during COVID-19, Little Free Pantries flourish

Sue Carpenter Jul 16, 2020
Deborah Binder of Edmonds, Washington, set up a Little Free Pantry in her yard to help food-insecure neighbors. Courtesy Deborah Binder
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought high unemployment, and with more people struggling financially, food insecurity.

One way more and more community members are helping their neighbors is through a grassroots effort: Little Free Pantries. They resemble Little Free Libraries, only instead of books, they are stocked with boxed goods, canned goods and other food donated by community members to be used by passersby in need.

A Little Free Pantry (Courtesy Deborah Binder)

Jessica McClard launched the movement in 2016 to help combat food insecurity in her home state of Arkansas. She noticed Little Free Libraries in her neighborhood and realized that anything might go inside. “They even look like kitchen cabinets,” she said.

By her count, there are now more than 1,000 Little Free Pantries across the country. They are set up and maintained by individuals. About a third of them have opened since the pandemic began.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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