THE LITTLE FREE
PLANT POWERED PANTRY
UPDATE - JANUARY 24: After 10 days of deep freeze, the temperatures here started to climb above freezing and are expected to climb above 40°F in the next few days. We still have a few items of frozen food inside, and we urge anyone in our area looking for free frozen food to stop by today or tomorrow. We are restocking the pantry with soups and other goods in cans and jars that were subject to freezing recently.
UPDATE - JANUARY 14: Frigid temperatures have descended on our little pantry in Chicago suburb of Berwyn. As I write this, the outdoor temperature is -8° F, which is so cold that we have had to bring all the cans and jars or liquid indoors for worry of having them burst from the liquid expansion. But thanks to a kindly group of donors to our GoFundMe page, we have been able to restock with a wide variety of healthy vegan frozen and boxed comfort foods as well as frozen vegetables and fruits, rice, pasta, beans and a lot of other ingredients and meals. Even today, in the frigid air and biting wind, people have stopped by to pick up items for their lunch or dinner, so we are grateful that we have good food to offer them. Thanks so much to all of our donors. Together we are helping to make some people's lives a little bit easier.
- Marla and John
UPDATE - NOVEMBER 20: We have found and communicated with members of each of the 20 families who wished for free plant-based Thanksgiving dinners, we have (thanks to many wonderful and generous contributors) raised $1,100 to pay for the 80 meals and forwarded the money to Chef Qia, who has purchased all of the ingredients and is currently creating all of these delicious and abundant meals. The day after tomorrow, which is the day before Thanksgiving, we will be picking all the meals up and distributing them to all of the deserving families. We are so appreciative of the community that so quickly came together to make this happen!
Our work with keeps the pantry stocked continues however and we hope to continue to raise all the money we need for this. The pantry hands out between $200 and $300 worth of food each month. We cover as much of this cost as we can ourselves and several neighbors stop by and drop off food. It's never enough, though, so any more contributions we receive are greatly appreciated.
We are also getting requests from people who want to set up Little Free Plant Powered Pantries in their own communities, and we want to help them do so.
If you are interested having us help you set up your own Little Free Plant Powered Pantry, please contact us.
We have an exciting new update to the Little Free Plant-Powered Pantry's efforts: In addition to continuing to distribute free, shelf-stable, vegan food through our 24-hour pantry, which you have been so generous in supporting, we are going to be offering 20 free boxes of complete plant-based vegan Thanksgiving meals that feed four this holiday. We are working with Chef Qia from Chicago Style Vegan – a brilliantly gifted vegan caterer who wants to be more involved in getting good food to hungry people. This will be a complete meal, with appetizers, main dishes and desserts. The cost for each box is approximately $55.00, which is a very reasonable price for feeding four people a delicious and abundant meal.
Here is where the Little Free Plant-Powered Pantry community of supporters comes in: We would love to have your support in bringing these boxes to hungry people. Whether it is sponsoring an entire box at $55.00 or any amount you can give, it is so appreciated.
People are hungry and in need of hope right now, more than I have ever seen. We would be ever so grateful to anyone who can donate and share this GFM. Give the world something to feel good about and know you have helped lives.
Because Thanksgiving is almost upon us, we need to raise this money by Friday, November 17, in order to give Qia time to work her magic.
As we work on this side project, please know that the Little Free Plant-Powered Pantry continues unabated with its mission of offering vegan food to anyone who wants or needs it. I cannot describe the gratification I feel every time I fill the pantry a little more. I highly recommend supporting the Little Free Plant-Powered Pantry for growing your sense of hope and community. It is a small thing given the amount of need in the world but it is SOMEthing. <3
We deserve caring communities and food is a basic human right.
From Marla Rose:
On April 7, 2023, 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.