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Free Little Pantry In The Netherlands Makes a Big Difference For People With Little Money

2 min read

Better Society

It may only be a free little, but it makes a big difference for people with little money. Click on the video above and watch Dutch Joke’s inspiring story.

Joke’s little pantry, big impact

The Dutch Joke, a resident of Monster, placed a beautiful pantry in front of her house. The cupboard serves as a mini-library and neighbourhood pantry. People can exchange books and magazines as well as take out groceries. For those on a tight budget, they can bring a little extra to make their lives a little easier.

Of course, the neighbourhood pantry is not a solution to growing poverty, but it does ease the suffering for some people a little. If everyone does this, it may well have an impact. Moreover, it shows people in trouble that there are people around them who care and want to help them.

Helping people of limited means

It is a sad reality that as a result of the rising cost of living, more and more people in the Netherlands and more rich countries, are running into financial difficulties. For this growing group of people, it is becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Fortunately, there are people like the Dutch lady Joke from Monster, and many others with her, who deploy neighbourhood pantries.

The neighbourhood pantry is replenished and organised every morning by Joke. During the day, people come by to collect the items they need. The cabinet is out of sight of Joke’s house, so visitors can remain anonymous. Still, Joke loves hearing the great stories of those she has helped.

“People who are in very dire situations are often helped in this way, and they are very grateful,” says Joke.

Source: BrightVibes - foto Lisanne van Lier

Joke does not do this alone. Her neighbours, friends and family all contribute to the neighbourhood pantry, making life a little easier for those in need. Together, they make the world a little more beautiful.

Increasing number of neighbourhood pantries

Neighbourhood pantries are an increasingly popular phenomenon in the Netherlands and can have a great impact on the community. Neighbourhood pantries are small cupboards filled with various (perishable) products, care products, and sometimes clothes, toys or books. It could even be a fridge! Neighbourhood pantries are often placed in people’s (front) gardens, in community centres or village halls, or in other public places. The website lists almost all neighbourhood pantries in the Netherlands. The concept is simple: you can take what you can use from a neighbourhood pantry for free and anonymously and/or put in what you can spare. This helps against wastage and helps people who are left with a chunk of month at the end of their money.

Sign of solidarity

Setting up neighbourhood pantries also sends a signal to the government that much more needs to be done to fight poverty in our country. As a society, we must continue to work on solutions to help people out of poverty. Joke and many others show that as individuals, we can already make a difference in our own neighbourhood.

Door het plaatsen van buurtkastjes wordt niet alleen voedselverspilling tegen gegaan, maar worden mensen in nood ook geholpen. Neighbourhood pantries are a low-threshold way to offer help to those in need.

It is great to see more and more people getting involved in setting up neighbourhood pantries and making the world a little better. It is important to continue supporting and expanding these initiatives to counter the growing poverty in the Netherlands.

If you’re interested in setting up a neighbourhood pantry, or just want to find out where a neighbourhood pantry can be found in your neighbourhood, take a look at

Making a difference

Joke’s neighbourhood pantry is an example of how an individual can make a big difference in the community.

Source: BrightVibes - foto Lisanne van Lier

It is a great initiative to fight waste and help those in need. The growing popularity of neighbourhood pantries shows the need for more solidarity in our society. As Desmond Tutu once said, “We cannot all make a difference, but we can all make a difference.”

Let us all be inspired by the concept of neighbourhood pantries and do our bit for a better world. Through small actions like installing a neighbourhood pantry, we can make the world a little nicer and help our fellow man.

For more inspiration, read here about book-loving rubbish man Vitor, who started a library in Porto with books he saved from the rubbish.

Make an Impact

Set up your own neighbourhood pantry

If you're Dutch and interested in setting up a neighbourhood pantry, or just want to find out where a neighbourhood pantry can be found in your neighbourhood, take a look at

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