A neighborhood pantry that provided food, books, and toys for people struggling through the pandemic is now being forced to close by the City of Vista for operating in violation of a city ordinance.
The pantry was set up by Mark and Jannah Loigman on the driveway of their home in March 2020. At first, they say it started as a way for Mark to find and share new books, but knowing that many people in the community were struggling due to the pandemic, they soon decided to add some food.
“We put some of the food from our house out on the shelves with the books and from there, things kind of really took off,” said Mark Loigman. “Folks started to see what we were doing and started to donate food.”
As word got out more donations started to come in.
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“There was breakfast, lunch, and dinner for anyone who needed it in the cupboard,” said Jannah Loigman.
At its peak, the Loigman's say the pantry was attracting about 200 people a week.
The large crowds visiting the Loigman’s home led to neighbor complaints. The city has now asking the couple to shut down their operation by June 1.
The Loigman's say the city told them they were not allowed to continue hosting the pantry due to city zoning laws. According to these laws, food distribution is not allowed in residential neighborhoods.
“I don't know where it will go from here but I know that we will comply with the city,” said Jannah Loigman
Neighbors and friends of the Loingman's hope they can keep the pantry open. More than 700 people have signed an online petition in support of them.
They say the little place provided to hundreds of families during these trying times.