‘Kindness is contagious’: Calgary family transforms little free library into pantry

A little free library in Bowness, with yellow owls painted on the sides, isn’t for lending books right now. 

Taped to the door is a sign that reads: “We’ve turned our library to a pantry during this time. Take what you need. Leave what you can.”

And inside, there’s cereal, canned food and other non-perishable staples. 

“We like to watch to see if someone is grabbing some snacks — or even better when they’re adding something to it,” said Erin Bacon.

Kids need lunch

The province announced in mid-March that schools would be shuttered to students indefinitely. And according to the Alberta government web page, the school nutrition program helps approximately 35,000 students with nutritional meals every school day. 

“There’s a lot of children there who rely on the school for food,” Bacon said. “So we were trying to think of a way that we could make sure that the kids had a place to go get food.”

And her son Anderson says it’s not just about the children — many people are struggling right now.

A little free library in Bowness turns into a pantry to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Helen Pike/CBC)

“A lot of people got laid off recently, so they don’t have the money to pay for all this food,” he said. “You still need the same amount of food but more this time, and you still can’t pay for even more food. So you just need food.”

Besides their free library at home, the family is also helping stock another pantry at the kids’ school.

“We check on it every day or every other day,” Bacon said. “And it’s another excuse to get out for a walk, too.”

And it’s catching on. Bacon said more little free libraries in the area have converted into pantries.

“I would just say that kindness is contagious and it’s really easy to do something small and help your neighbours out.”