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Milwaukee backyard food pantry promoting food justice and equality

Posted at 8:20 PM, Aug 27, 2020

MILWAUKEE — Sherman Park has a new(ish) food pantry that is putting a twist on making food accessible for those who need it.

“Often times when you go to the grocery store a bag of peaches costs more than a box of twinkies," creator of the community food service Food is Free MKE, Emma Toth, said.

Toth said that people don't have access to enough affordable healthy food. That's when she decided to make a change.

About one year ago, she put some produce she harvested on a table in the street for anyone to take. She did it a few times and neighbors decided to drop off food too. One year later, the alleyway behind her house is filled with plants, produce, canned goods, bread, a refrigerator, and so much more.

"During the daylight hours (we) probably see three to four visitors an hour whether they are taking things leaving things," Toth said.

Beyond food, she has also given out around 1,200 different vegetable starter plants for people to grow in their own garden. It's her way of promoting food equality and justice. All those starter plants were grown in a green house in her backyard too.

“It's a problem when the healthy foods costs more than the unhealthy foods, and we're kind of here to show that when were given good choice we will make good choices.”

For Toth, this is a way to make healthy eating more accessible to everyone. She even has a display garden (that does grow food) to show how little space you need in the city to garden.

Food is Free MKE is expanding too. The neighborhood response has been so strong that other neighbors lots will soon be used to grow even more food for the area.

They give out more than just food too. After listening to the community Food Is Free MKE started stocking their pantry shelves with laundry shop, dish soap, paper towels, baby wipes, and more.

If you want to help or are in need of affordable healthy food, you can go to the pantry at 56th and Townsend. You can also visit their Facebook page.

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