It's not uncommon to see old newspaper boxes for sale online. With fewer print publications, people have discovered different uses for the large plastic/metal behemoths. Just last year, I refurbished one into a "Free Blockbuster," but that's a story for another time.

Some retired newspaper boxes in the Dubuque area now serve a completely different purpose. They have been converted to food pantries as part of the "Little Free Food Pantry" program. Recently, 10 boxes were donated by the Telegraph Herald's parent company, Woodward Communications.

A map with all Free Little Food Pantry locations in Dubuque. Photo Credit: FreeLittlePantry.Org & Google Maps
A map with all food pantry box locations in Dubuque. Photo Credit: FreeLittlePantry.Org & Google Maps

As it stands right now, there are over a dozen pantries scattered throughout the Dubuque and Asbury area. Six of the 10 Little Free Food Pantries, specifically, have been claimed by residents.

The concept is simple: "give what you can, take what you need." The pantries are there to provide food to residents in need, however, they're only meant for non-perishable boxed or canned products. So leave the milk, meat, and cheese in the fridge.

Locally, the program gained substantial momentum during the on-set of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago. Initially, the pantries were larger, wooden structures. But given the time those take to construct, the comparatively easier-to-access newspaper boxes provide a grab-and-go experience. With a little spray-paint and some appropriate markings, many look downright professional.

The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque has also been instrumental in helping these pantries get off the ground. The Little Free Food Pantries movement grew when the foundation started working with the Feed Dubuque County network to assist local food providers.

The most in-demand products at these humble little boxes are canned vegetables and personal care items (shampoo, soap, tampons, etc). If the spirit moves you, consider making a donation to one of the boxes in the area. You can find a complete map of all of them, across the entire country, right here.

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