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Community garden free bins help fill the food gap for Lansing families

Lansing community gardens helping residents with "free bins"
Posted at 5:39 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 18:11:40-04

LANSING, Mich. — It's been 18 months since the onset of the pandemic and communities have had to figure out ways to support each other. Across the city, some community gardens are doing their part to help out.

The Holmes Street community garden has been around for about 10 years. Eight gardeners grow all kinds of things from jalapeños and corn to cucumbers and berries.

Lots of times they have more than they can use. So they decided to add a feature that allows them to share with their neighbors.

“So that’s when we got scrap wood. Built the little bin, put a little sign telling people it was free for anyone. Then we started picking and putting things in the free bin so that we could share with people,” said community gardener MaryBeth Van Horn.

Sarah Szwejda from the Greater Lansing Food Bank says more people are turning to free food bins like the one at the Holmes Street community garden and to food giveaway events.

“Its what we’re seeing at these mobiles now too. Kids are back to school. The unemployment benefits are reduced or running out. We still have SNAP benefits that are in place for folks but there’s so much uncertainty we’re just going to see that need grow as we get into the fall and winter months,” Szwejda said.

It's something that fellow community gardener Jessica Cushman sees firsthand.

“I’ve known the other communities and neighborhoods that also have them. My brother actually built a couple of them for different neighborhoods. He loves it because he’ll go out there and park see people use the bins,” Cushman said.

Cushman says the small bins are making a big difference, at least in her neighborhood.

“The impact is that it's helped a lot of people. There’s a lot of people here and we don’t live in the best neighborhood and there’s a lot of people who are in need because of the pandemic and stuff and its been very helpful,” she said.

Community gardener Lamont Herron says the bins are making the community stronger.

“Look at the season we’re in. Its hard times for everyone. As my mom said when I was growing up. Waste not. Want not. If I’ve got extra, I have to give it away. That way, we as a community can grow,” he said.

The Greater Lansing Food Bank coordinates many of the city’s community gardens. There are more than 95. You can find them here.

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