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Little free pantries offer access to food where it’s needed

Since 2016, people who live outside of Monument Circle alone have been impacted by food deserts at an increase of 21%.

A free food box outside a bookstore

You can find a “free food” box outside of Irvington Vinyl & Books.

Photo by INDYtoday team

By now, you’ve probably seen those tiny, colorful, book-filled boxes posted up in a front yard or outside of a business around Indy.

We told you all about these little free libraries, and now we’re back to tell you about a new take on the “take something, leave something” boxes.

Did you know the Indianapolis metro area encompasses many food deserts? The term “food desert” refers to an area in the community where access to fresh + nutritious foods is significantly limited due to a lack of access to affordable grocery stores.

A little free pantry stocked with food items

Central General Store operates and stocks little free pantries like this one.

According to Indy Food Policy, 208,000 Indianapolis residents live in a food desert, and 10,500 live without access to a car or bus to reach grocery stores.

In response to this, there’s a growing movement of little free pantries aiming to help those who are experiencing food insecurity in the community.

Hoosier Elizabeth Friedland operates a couple of these little pantries, called “Central General Store.” The two little pantries located at 5151 Central Ave. and 2837 E. New York St. are inspired by Future Farmers of America and are there for people to pull from as needed.

Map of little free pantry locations around Indianapolis

There are at least 20 little free pantries around Indianapolis.

Screenshot via Little Free Pantry

Central General Store stocks them with items including food + common household supplies and necessities such as hygiene and cleaning items, pet food, baby food, small toys, school supplies, and seasonal items like blankets, mittens, hats, and sunscreen.

In Fountain Square, you can find a free food fridge called the “Love Indy Fridge” on Shelby Street outside of Southeast Community Services.

Other mini pantries around Indy can be found online. Do you operate a little free pantry? Add it to the map.

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