Introducing our Little Free Plant Powered Pantry We deserve caring communities and food is a basic human right.
From Marla Rose: On April 7, I got a Facebook message from my dear friend Bonnie Goodman, who is a fabulous artist, vegan organizer and activist in Montana. Bonnie and I share an obsession with Mid-Century Modern design, especially kitchen miscellanea. Out of the blue, she messaged me that there was this cute little child’s toy stove from 1960 that was for sale on eBay from someone in IL and wondered if it was near me. Bonnie mentioned that she had been looking for one just like it near her to turn into a Little Free Library and stock with vegan cookbooks and other lit.
I looked: The seller was about 30 minutes from us. It was so cute, this pink tin stove with turning knobs and a door that opened, but while I love Little Free Libraries and books, the idea of this becoming a project I took on just didn’t light me up. I owed it to Bonnie to at least think about it, though, so I started typing in “little free” to see how to build one and instead of the next word coming up being “library,” which is the much more common project, the suggested word was “pantry.”
See, a pantry was something I could get excited about. I purchased the stove for $25.00, thinking that if John, my partner and our in-house builder of things, wasn’t into it, I could just resell it because I didn’t want to take this project on myself. So I picked it up from a nice woman in a McDonald’s parking lot (do all eBay transactions take place there?), brought it home, set it on our porch and kind of let it be until my husband asked about that new arrival on the porch. “I’m thinking about turning it into a Little Free Pantry,” I said as calmly and neutrally as possible. He turned it around in his head. “Huh...” (Again with the “huh.”) A day or so later, I overheard my son asking my husband what was up with the toy stove on the porch and John said, “Mom’s thinking about turning it into a Little Free Pantry,” and our son was so lit up, we had to make it happen. Immediately, I thought of the name The Little Free Plant Powered Pantry (LFPPP) because I love an alliteration and marketing opportunity so here we are.
This is our origin story.
The Little Free Pantry is a model that is already established and we are just joining in and adding our vegan spin to it: Everything in our pantry is shelf-table and vegan/plant-based, like nut butters, beans, pasta, sauces and grains, though we do hope and plan to have fresh produce grown by local gardeners available in a cooler later this summer. (A work in progress, the LFPPP had an ice box part that John thought could stay cool with ice but it’s not sufficiently cold, so we will just have that component offering cold/frozen foods in the winter.) We are so happy to be able to do our LFPPP and are confident it will be utilized for those in need when more people become aware of it. VegNews already published a story including it and it is now officially live on the Little Free Pantry map.
Now, let’s get to some frequent questions…
Q: How can you know if people who take the food need it?
A: We can’t know so we are giving with no strings attached. My guess is if someone is taking food, there is a need there and if not, again, so be it. We want people to access good vegan food and we’re happy to maintain the pantry but we won’t be gatekeeping need. There is plenty for everyone. (My longer response is on Facebook.)
Q: What if you get vandalized?
A: I mean, not to be dismissive, but what if we do? We’ll handle it. If there are repeated issues with vandalizing, we will reassess to fix the issues. We do plan to install cameras for safety, though.
Q: Do you really get enough traffic where you live for this to be utilized?
A: Yes. We live in a multicultural, economically diverse inner-ring suburb of 55,000 near a very large city. Our yard, where the pantry is located, sees many pedestrians from the elementary school that is around the corner and overflow parking from the popular park that is also around the corner.
Q: Is there really that kind of need where you live?
A: You never know what someone is going through. According to MarketWatch, Bankrate data from January 2022 revealed that 56 percent of people in the U.S. would be unable to cover an unexpected $1,000 bill with savings. We are all one or two bits of bad news – illness, an injury, a job loss, taking care of a loved one – away from being in need, add to that the vagaries of inflation around food and other needs. Even in the suburbs, there is hunger, but the point is we don’t wait for the perfect scenario to present itself: We give without strings attached and assume that it is filling a need.
I hope this helps! People near and far can contribute to the ongoing maintenance (the costs are primarily shelf-stable vegan foods) of the Little Free Plant Powered Pantry by donating any amount to our crowdfunding campaign.
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