LANSING, Mich. — The Fledge on Lansing's east side is one of several places in the city where people can find free food stands. Erica Munchbach says that one of the greatest things about these free food stands is the concept of mutual aid. People give what they can and take what they need.
“It is really just as easy as, drive up to get the food… so I ride my bike and my backpack over there...it was actually a really valuable source of fresh vegetables for my family throughout the summer” Munchbach said.
Munchbach has also donated to these stands. She's contributed items such as frozen meals, fresh pizza, and some eggplants that she grew in a community garden this summer.
Jerry Norris, owner of The Fledge, says that the idea of taking the donated food and turning into a "grab-and-go-grocery" came in June from two community leaders, Casey O’Donnell and one who goes by Figgins.
“’If we build one, do you want it at The Fledge?’ And, we say yes to just about everything so, so we obviously said yes to this, and it has been filled and emptied, and filled and emptied, several times a day, every single day,” Norris said.
Norris describes the stands as “symbiotic,” as he often sees the people who pick up food later donate food, and vice versa. While there are plenty of food donation sites around Lansing, Munchbach says that she appreciates how easy it is to donate to and pick up from the free stands.
“…no drama, no red tape…like, that can be really inhibiting for some people that actually really need the food. …because a lot of time if you want to donate some food, it's like, ‘Well we're only accepting this or this or this.' So there's really very few limitations as long as it's like safe and actually edible. You can take it to the free stand and leave it,” Munchbach explained.
Norris said these stands and food donation centers are important to the community because roughly 25 percent of Lansing residents live in poverty and food security is a problem.
“Everybody needs food, and I don’t care how rich you are or how poor you are, you need food. It’s a basic necessity and we think people have a right to it. If we’re not taking care of basic needs like food and shelter and clothing and safety and security, people can’t – their brain keeps them in…a survival mode and people weren’t born to just survive; they were born to thrive. And, it’s just not fair. It’s not fair to be hungry, ” Norris said.
Norris says the free stands and the philosophy behind them are not going away any time soon, and he hopes one day they will evolve into something bigger like a free grocery store. For now, these stands can be found at 1300 Eureka St., 651 Louisa St., 552 N. Dexter Dr., 4600 Bristol St.
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