People living near a Milwaukee neighborhood food depot say the place is full of mice, but cellar supporters say it works wonders for the community. This month, the Neighborhood Services Department issued a leave and waiver of Food is Free MKE at 56 and Townsend, citing zoning violations and rodents. However, the cellar operator, Emma Toth, said she is not closing the closet in her neighborhood. Toth declined to appear on camera Friday, but told WISN 12 News she expects to “continue working with the city on this issue.” The DNS said Toth made a request for a change of use with the Zoning Appeals Board. Although, due to his schedule, the board will likely not be able to handle the Toth case until September. Those who know and support Toth and her pantry said she does wonders for her community. “There are so many people around who do not get food stamps, whose children do not even get a meal once a day and the thing Mrs. Emma is doing for everyone here, she is a god-given person,” Syvilla said. Banks, someone who supports and uses Food is Free MKE. WISN 12 News saw numerous good Samaritans donate to the neighborhood pantry on Friday. “I love this installation because it’s free, anyone can come in, it’s open 24/7. I really like focusing on community members coming together,” said Christine Little, who said she donates leftover food from Marquette cafe. “I work in a grocery store. Every Friday, they have leftovers and throw them out or give them to a place and I offer to bring them here,” said Ahuva Drelich, who said donating to Food is MKE Free a once a week with her children. Neighbors, however, said those good intentions have led to dirty consequences. “The rats have eaten through the wires in people’s cars and belongings, they have been around my garage. I have set bait to kill them and everything,” said John Kennedy, who lives near the cellar. “I have lived here for 22 years. I never saw a mouse until this food pantry came here.” “It’s a wonderful thing, what she’s doing with the food pantry. Fine okay, I have no objection to that, but the objection comes when she does not want to do anything about infecting mice,” Kennedy said. “She’m sympathizing with her supporters for believing we’re bad people. We’re not bad people, we live here,” Kennedy said. “I would say this, if any of you supporters want to get four or five of these mice in your house for a week or so, then come back and tell me how you feel.” Food is free MKE is in Ald. Michael Murphy Circle. “The goal is big, but the reality is, we have zoning laws for a reason and we have food safety laws for a reason,” Murphy said. “Because we are seeking the welfare of the general public.” Murphy said most of the phone calls and emails he has received from close neighbors are sympathetic to Toth’s intentions, but not supportive of the pantries because of the rodents he attracts. “I hope that when we have a neighborhood meeting, we will work with the residents in the neighborhood, it is my responsibility, it is to hear from the neighbors, but also to find maybe a compromise for a better place,” Murphy said. “They want to work with him to help them in the nearby area, but not in a backyard garage,” Murphy said.

People living near a Milwaukee neighborhood food depot say the place is full of mice, but cellar supporters say it works wonders for the community.

This month, the Neighborhood Services Department issued a leave and waiver of Food is Free MKE at 56 and Townsend, citing zoning violations and rodents.

However, the cellar operator, Emma Toth, said she is not closing the closet in her neighborhood.

Toth declined to appear on camera Friday, but told WISN 12 News she expects to “continue working with the city on this issue”.

The DNS said Toth applied for a change of use with the Board of Appeals Zone. Although, due to his schedule, the board will likely not be able to handle the Toth case until September.

Those who know and support Toth and her pantry said she does wonders for her community.

“There are so many people around here who do not get food stamps, whose children do not even get a meal once a day, and the thing Ms. Emma is doing for everyone here, she is a god-given person,” he said. Syvilla Banks, someone who supports and uses food is Free MKE.

WISN 12 News saw numerous good Samaritans donating to the neighborhood pantry on Friday.

“I love this installation because it’s free, anyone can come in, it’s open 24/7. I really like focusing on community members coming together,” said Christine Little, who said she donates leftover food from Marquette cafe.

“I work in a grocery store. Every Friday, they have leftovers and throw them away or give them away in one place and I offer to bring them here,” said Ahuva Drelich, who said she donates to Food is Free MKE once per week with her children.

However, neighbors said these good intentions have led to dirty consequences.

“The rats have eaten through the wires in people’s cars and belongings, they have been around my garage. I have set bait to kill them and everything,” said John Kennedy, who lives near the cellar. “I have lived here for 22 years. I never saw a mouse until this food pantry came here.”

“It’s a wonderful thing, what she’s doing with the food pantry. Fine okay, I have no objection to that, but the objection comes when she does not want to do anything about infecting mice,” Kennedy said.

“She is captivating her supporters by believing that we are bad people. We are not bad people, we live here,” Kennedy said. “I would say this, if any of you supporters want to get four or five of these mice in your house for a week or so, then come back and tell me how you feel.”

Food is free MKE is in Ald. Michael Murphy Circle.

“The goal is big, but the reality is, we have zoning laws for a reason and we have food safety laws for a reason,” Murphy said. “Because we are seeking the welfare of the general public.”

Murphy said most of the phone calls and emails he has received from close neighbors are sympathetic to Toth’s intentions, but not supportive of the pantries because of the rodents he attracts.

“I hope that when we have a neighborhood meeting, we will work with the residents in the neighborhood, it is my responsibility, it is to hear from the neighbors, but also to find maybe a compromise for a better place,” Murphy said.

“They want to work with him to help them in the nearby area, but not in a backyard garage,” Murphy said.

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