Fort Smith Little Food Pantry Issued Special Permit Allowing It To Stay

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Barbie Johnson often stocks the Little Food Pantry at Creekmore Park in Fort Smith.

"It is in such a central location. It empties honestly within the hour. Sometimes within 30 minutes," Johnson said. "The need is huge in Fort Smith,"

Johnson is passionate about helping those in need,so when she was told to take the little food pantry down, she planned to fight the decision.

According to Parks and Recreation leaders, an email came from the city clerk's office asking city leaders to look into the pantry's violation of a city ordinance.

"The seven other pantries in Fort Smith, all of them with the exception of this one, are on personal property, church property, or business property. So, there's no problem with those, but one of the city ordinances says no soliciting, selling or displaying of food items in the park," Johnson said.

Johnson said she went to a town hall meeting in Fort Smith Tuesday night to voice her concern. She said many people from within the community showed up to help voice their support if needed. Turns out Johnson didn't need the help, even though she said it was much appreciated.

"Overwhelmingly, our city directors were like, 'We are keeping this pantry at Creekmore. We will do whatever we need to do for the city ordinance,'" Johnson said.

Johnson will have to renew a special use permit each year, but it will not cost her a dime. She said a dog food pantry is set to go up at the Fort Smith City Dog Park in one month.