The Pokagon Fund aims to improve the health of neighbors facing hunger in Harbor Country by providing 60,000 nutritious meals

In 2019, The Pokagon Fund continued its hunger-relief efforts in Harbor Country by sponsoring 24 Feeding America West Michigan Mobile Food Pantries.

A volunteer serves a client fruit as they go through the line.

In total, these food distributions provided community members in need with 70,818 pounds of fresh produce, dairy, protein and other food items – equating to nearly 60,000 meals.

Aiming to “enhance the lives of residents of Southwest Michigan,” the Pokagon Fund wants to ensure all residents have access to enough nutritious food. The Fund’s steadfast sponsorship of Mobile Food Pantries has made this goal reality for many neighbors in need, improving their lives with a trunk full of fresh food.

In Berrien County, 14.5 percent of residents are food insecure – meaning they don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. This is because they must often choose between purchasing nutritious food and paying for other necessities. Among children in the county, 16.9 percent face hunger.

When people are food insecure, they are significantly more likely to report fair or poor health. In fact, according to the USDA, “The number of chronic conditions for adults in households with low food security is, on average, 18 percent higher than for those in high food-secure households.” Lack of access to nutritious food is especially challenging for children, who could experience lack of focus in school and stunted growth.

The Pokagon Fund’s continued sponsorship of Mobile Food Pantries means food insecure neighbors have somewhere to turn for fresh, nutritious options when they would have otherwise had to forgo a week’s worth of produce to pay that month’s heating bill, for example.

The three locations that hosted the Pokagon Fund’s Mobile Pantries this year – Episcopal Church of the Mediator, Harbor Country Progress and the New Buffalo America Legion – provided their own volunteer force, ensuring many neighbors facing hunger received the help they need.

Feeding America West Michigan is proud to work alongside organizations like the Pokagon Fund, who ensure the safe, surplus food we reclaim can make it into the hands of neighbors facing hunger as soon as possible.

Story written by Communication Assistant Juliana Ludema.