Lawrence Freedgin’ Kansas, a mutual aid project seeking to fight food insecurity in the Lawrence community that launched March 14, has been asked by the city to make modifications to their fridge due to a variety of city code violations. These violations include historic/downtown design guidelines, fire code, and right of way, city employee Enrico Villegas told the Kansan.
Lawrence Freedgin’ Kansas, also known as LFK Eats, has temporarily moved its fridge and pantry to the alley behind Latchkey Deli, which constitutes as private property. Their pantry is currently open 24/7 and stocked with non-perishable food items. The fridge had originally been set up on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, with its power supplied from inside the building.
“It’s a little discouraging because a lot of the solutions that were given to us by the city were not using a fridge, using a cooler instead and taking off the doors of the fridge, or unplugging it at night and plugging it in in the morning, and so it’s a bit of an obstacle to overcome,” said Ximena Ibarra, KU sophomore and LFK Eats member.
Ibarra said the ICT Community Fridge in Wichita did not have to go through negotiations with the Kansas Department of Health, but acknowledges that Lawrence might be more strict as LFK Eats is set up on public instead of private property, like the ICT Community Fridge is.
Section 2.2 of Lawrence’s Historic/Downtown Design Guidelines states, “No portion of a sidewalk dining/hospitality area shall be used for any purpose other than dining/hospitality and circulation therein.”
“Most of the concerns of the city actually were addressed just by moving the fridge to the back of Latchkey Deli,” said Sayan Grover, an organizer of LFK Eats and KU student.
Grover said issues surrounding the fridge should be resolved soon, and it should be stocked with perishable food for the community shortly.
“We're excited to work with the city and maintain a good working relationship with them,” Grover said. “Obviously there's city regulations, but we just want to make sure that we're following all of those.”