People Are Stocking Their Little Free Libraries With Food and Toilet Paper to Help Neighbors

A Little Free Library full of canned goods in Chicago.
A Little Free Library full of canned goods in Chicago.
Ashley Hamer, Twitter

Across the nation, people are stocking their Little Free Libraries with food, toilet paper, and other necessities as a creative way to lend a helping hand to neighbors in need without breaking the rules of social distancing.

Many of the makeshift pantries encourage people to pay it forward with handwritten messages like “Take what you need, share what you can,” and other similar adaptations of Little Free Library’s “Take a book, leave a book” motto. Some people have completely emptied the books from their libraries to make room for non-perishables like peanut butter, canned soup, and pasta, while others still have a little space devoted to reading material—which, although it might not be quite as important as a hearty meal, can keep you relaxed and entertained during quarantine.

As Literary Hub explains, donating to a Little Free Library-turned-pantry near you isn’t just a great way to help neighbors who can’t make it to the store (or can’t find what they need on increasingly low-stocked shelves). It could also combat feelings of powerlessness or loneliness brought on by self-isolation; by giving what you can spare—and seeing what others have contributed—you’re fostering a sense of community that exists even without the face-to-face contact you’re probably used to.

Greig Metzger, the executive director of the Little Free Library organization, suggests that people even use their Little Free Libraries as collection points for larger food donations to nearby charities.

“Food shelves everywhere are facing increased demand,” Metzger, who served as an executive director for a Minneapolis food shelf before joining Little Free Library, wrote in a blog post. “You can find the food shelf nearest you by doing a Google search for ‘food shelf near me.’ Perhaps use your Little Free Library to host a food drive to help that local food shelf.”

You can also look for Little Free Libraries in your area using this interactive map.

Looking for other ways to help your community fight the wide-reaching effects of the new coronavirus? Here are seven things you can do.

[h/t Literary Hub]

This Smart Accessory Converts Your Instant Pot Into an Air Fryer

Amazon
Amazon

If you can make a recipe in a slow cooker, Dutch oven, or rice cooker, you can likely adapt it for an Instant Pot. Now, this all-in-one cooker can be converted into an air fryer with one handy accessory.

This Instant Pot air fryer lid—currently available on Amazon for $80—adds six new cooking functions to your 6-quart Instant Pot. You can select the air fry setting to get food hot and crispy fast, using as little as 2 tablespoons of oil. Other options include roast, bake, broil, dehydrate, and reheat.

Many dishes you would prepare in the oven or on the stovetop can be made in your Instant Pot when you switch out the lids. Chicken wings, French fries, and onion rings are just a few of the possibilities mentioned in the product description. And if you're used to frying being a hot, arduous process, this lid works without consuming a ton of energy or heating up your kitchen.

The lid comes with a multi-level air fry basket, a broiling and dehydrating tray, and a protective pad and storage cover. Check it out on Amazon.

For more clever ways to use your Instant Pot, take a look at these recipes.

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5 Organizations That Empower Black Communities—and How You Can Help

Attorney Nina Shaw speaks at a 2019 awards ceremony for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Attorney Nina Shaw speaks at a 2019 awards ceremony for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for NAACP LDF

As people gather across the nation to protest racial injustice and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer, you might be wondering what you can do to help promote equality and empower Black communities. One great way is to donate to organizations committed to furthering those goals—from legal defense funds to healthcare initiatives, below are five organizations to consider contributing to (and you can check out more from this list, compiled by Charity Navigator).

1. Black Lives Matter

Founded in 2013 as a response to the acquittal of the man who killed Trayvon Martin, Black Lives Matter is a chapter-based organization that works to end state violence against members of Black communities and bring about social, economic, and political equality.

"We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location," the organization explains on its website.

Click here to donate.

2. NAACP Legal Defense Fund

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund (LDF), established by Thurgood Marshall in 1940, is a law firm that focuses on upholding civil rights and achieving equality through structural change and racial justice.

"Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans," the LDF mission statement reads.

Click here to donate.

3. Black Women’s Health Imperative

While data on COVID-19 cases is still evolving, the CDC has acknowledged that the current numbers suggest "a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups." The CDC has also stated that Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women are "two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women." In short, Black women face unique risks when it comes to receiving quality healthcare and life-saving treatment, which makes the Black Women's Health Imperative especially important.

The mission of the Black Women's Health Imperative is "to lead the effort to solve the most pressing health issues that affect Black women and girls in the U.S." In addition to developing programs and supporting policies that help mitigate those issues, they also educate women on preventative measures, healthcare treatment, and more.

Click here to donate.

4. National Association of Black Journalists

The National Association of Black Journalists—the largest coalition of people of color in the journalism industry—seeks equal representation in the media by helping Black journalists progress to managerial positions, providing professional development training, awarding scholarships to students interested in journalism, and more. They also try to effect change in the industry at large by "sensitizing all media to the importance of fairness in the workplace for Black journalists."

Click here to donate.

5. Center for Black Equity

The Center for Black Equity supports Black LGBTQ+ individual by building a network of community-based organizations that, according to their mission statement, promote “health and wellness opportunities, economic empowerment, and equal rights while promoting individual and collective work, responsibility, and self-determination."

Click here to donate.