Little Free Libraries being turned into Little Free Pantries to help those in need during pandemic

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CLARENCE, N.Y. (WIVB) – As the country faces the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery stores remain open in New York State. But, the most vulnerable, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, should avoid even those trips to avoid exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Good Samaritans around Western New York are offering another option to get the staples.

The Little Free Library, a neighborhood book exchange, outside the Roots of the Future Montessori school on Main Street in Clarence has been stocked with food for community members to take or leave as they wish.

“We figured in this unprecedented time, to do something for the community and do something positive, we converted it over to a Little Free Pantry for the time being,” explained Dr. Anna Liuzzo, Director and Founder of Roots of the Future Montessori.

Liuzzo says Little Free Pantries have been popping up around the U.S. since 2016, but the families at Roots of the Future only recently learned about them.

With the school closed amid the Coronavirus shutdowns, Liuzzo says the families are able to stay connected with one another by helping to get the Little Free Pantry up and running.

“We do a lot of community-based things in the Montessori curriculum as it is, so we’re just trying to help everyone in the community as much as we can in this time. We’re trying to stay positive and do something positive that would help out,” Liuzzo said.

The Little Free Pantry can help out a lot of community members now who need help getting food and other supplies. It’s stocked with non-perishable food items like canned foods, beans, and pasta, as well as cleaning supplies and disinfectants. “Whatever people are thinking people need,” Liuzzo said.

Liuzzo says so far the community response to the Little Free Pantry has been very good, with many items being taken out, and others continually added, just as the pantries are intended to run.

“We’re asking people to stop by if they need anything, take what they need, leave what they can,” Liuzzo said. “And we do have a bin right outside our door in case the library is full.”

There are about a dozen Little Free Pantries registered around Western New York now. You can find the locations here.

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