Free Vegan Pantry Pops Up on San Antonio’s Northwest Side, Makes Plans for Second Location

Facebook / The Jovita Idár Little Library & Pantry
The Jovita Idár Little Library and Pantry is the latest in a network of free pantries popping up all over San Antonio. Founders — and roommates — Krys Sustaita and Ale Tierra say the "take what you need, leave what you can" mindset is a much-needed one amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Pantry is in front of my house, oddly enough," Sustaita, co-founder and 10-year resident of SA, told the Current. "But we have really tapped into a need, at least in my immediate neighborhood, because we see consistent use of the Pantry, as well as consistent donations being dropped off."

The pantry, a re-purposed armoire filled with free books and vegan-friendly dry goods, allows veteran human rights activists Sustaita and Tierra to move forward with supporting the houseless community of San Antonio as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. The pantry is a tribute to Jovita Idár, a journalist and activist during the Mexican Revolution who openly criticized Woodrow Wilson's decision to send troops to the border, and later helped open a free kindergarten for poor San Antonio children.

Sustaita and Tierra are longtime members of activist group Food Not Bombs, an organization that fights hunger, homelessness and poverty by partnering with local food providers to feed those in each branch’s community. Through that work, the duo served folx — or people with a non-normative sexual orientation or identity — meals every Sunday at a local park.

Of course, as the pandemic makes those types of gatherings unsafe, they had to find another way to serve their community.

"[Tierra] and I have been activists for years here in San Antonio, and figured out that one of the most important aspects of activism is addressing the needs of the local community around you," Sustaita said. "Opening the Pantry has been a wonderful and stressful experience. But we have, in the process, discovered this network of little pantries that have been placed in neighborhoods across San Antonio."

"It’s amazing to be a part of it, this building of a network of aid in San Antonio."

Sustaita and Tierra are hard at work organizing a food drive to stock their second location, at Viva Vegeria in Southtown. The drive will take place on September 24th from 5 to 8 p.m., and organizers hope to receive vegan soups, pasta, pasta sauces, hygiene items and books to stock their new pantry. Those who wish to make a monetary donation can do so at the pantry's GoFundMe page.

The flagship location is at 1531 San Francisco, and accepts vegan donations 24/7.

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.