On December 4, 2022 the Love Stand, a free food stand in Depot Town was shut down by the City of Ypsilanti citing blight and incorrect zoning.
The city tells us that the owner and operator of the stand did not get necessary permits including zoning. Zoning is most often a weapon, used to protect the property values of homeowners, business owners and people of means by keeping poor people out of specific areas
It is obvious to anyone that the price of everything has gone up. As fuel prices rise ,so does the price of everything else. While food prices have gone up, wages have not. Individuals and families have had to make difficult choices and to live more precariously just to get basic needs.
Food pantries help. They are essential resources, but often they alone are not adequate. They are only open at specific times and days. Some have barriers such as the need for paperwork, income requirements, citizenship requirements and other hurdles that leave some folks out.
In light of this Peace House has been operating a small “porch pantry” open 24-7 for over 3 years. It started as a couple of plastic bins on our porch and has grown to a larger enclosed plastic panty cupboard along the side of our home near our driveway. With The Love Stand close by we have focused our pantry on food that is geared towards those who are living in tents, cars or attempting to survive by spending limited financial resources to stay in hotels. We stock it with lots of instant “just add water and heat” foods such as ramen, instant soups etc as well as bars (granola, protein, cereal bars etc) and lots of high protein items such as jerky, pre-mixed tuna and cracker packets etc.
The need is clearly there, we need to refill it almost every day. Neighbors living on a fixed budget have commented that it saved them during the summer months by ensuring kids had snacks and easy to cook “meals” when a single parent was at work. Those in tents, cars, and staying in local hotels have expressed gratitude and told us it has allowed them to focus limited financial resources on other basic needs such as shelter.
A second pantry further down the driveway is filled with Pet food and resources to ensure folks can keep their companion animals.
The Love Stand was a needed and valuable resource in Ypsilanti. When the closing was announced community members overwhelmingly responded with strong disagreement to the city’s decision.
Peace house WILL CONTINUE TO OPERATE BOTH THE PEOPLE AND PET PANTRIES, and ask that anyone who is able to contribute please do so. In light of the Love stand closing we would love the capacity to expand.
We also encourage people to start their own outdoor pantries, and are happy to share what we’ve learned. Imagine barrier free 24-7 pantries in every neighborhood.