Allegan Seventh-day Adventist Church provides an oasis of hope for neighbors facing hunger

Hidden in the cornfields of Allegan County lies an oasis of hope for the 10,000 plus residents struggling with food insecurity. A small building tucked behind a row of trees has been a location for Feeding America West Michigan Mobile Food Pantries for over a decade.

A large white Feeding America West Michigan truck waits for the food distribution.

These Mobile Pantries are hosted by Allegan Seventh-day Adventist Church and funded by the Allegan County Community Foundation.

“We see the need. You do it because you need to help,” said Alex, the church’s pastor.

Alex recalled a time when a family of six in need of food stumbled upon the church’s Mobile Food Pantry on accident, after seeing a sign on the road. The family didn’t know what to do, so Alex helped them navigate the process. A few days later the family returned to thank Alex, bringing him two burritos they had made.

A group of volunteers poses after the food distribution.

“That is why I do what I do,” Alex said, “These people are in unfortunate situations but are still ready to give anything they have.”

A willingness to give back is not unusual. Often times, neighbors who receive food will return to volunteer at the Mobile Food Pantry after they are back on their feet, to show their appreciation for the help they received.

Even those who might not be physically able to help do what they can. Robert, an elderly gentleman who has been volunteering at this location for years can no longer lift heavy things, so instead he sits at the beginning of the line to greet his neighbors to make sure they feel welcome.

Older volunteer sits in a chair after volunteering.

This year, four Mobile Pantries were made possible by the Allegan County Community Foundation. Nearly 100 families were served at each food distribution between June and September.

Rachael and her two daughters, Nevaeh and Paris, are one of these families. Nevaeh loves fruit (strawberries are her favorite) and was very excited to receive an abundance of fresh options including grapes, raspberries, pears, apples, blueberries and watermelon at July’s distribution. The family also received milk, a bunch of fresh vegetables and baked goods.

Navaeh pulls a wagon full of food through the distribution line, as her mom shops. She's smiling at the camera.

With the support of dedicated volunteers like Robert, and granting organizations like the Allegan Community Foundation, Feeding America West Michigan can ensure Mobile Food Pantries will continue to make an enormous difference in the lives of families facing hunger in Allegan County.

Story written in collaboration with Social Media Intern Haley Rasmussen.