Marcellus Community Food Pantry: a beacon of hope amidst gaps in government assistance

Families across our service area are jumping more hurdles than ever as they work to put food on the table. SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and unemployment benefits can be helpful, but for many in need, they leave a gap. That’s where charitable food assistance comes in.

In Cass County, the Marcellus Community Food Pantry is a beacon of hope for neighbors facing hunger. It provides pantry staples and – in collaboration with Feeding America West Michigan and the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation – a monthly Mobile Pantry stocked with 5,000 pounds of fresh food.

Estela asks a neighbor for their info as they wait in a car at a Mobile Pantry.
Marcellus’ Mobile Pantry Coordinator, Estela, signs neighbors in before the food distribution begins.

Michelle – a mother to both a 9 and 7-year-old – found herself in line at July’s Mobile Pantry. She runs her own lawn care and house cleaning business, but the pandemic has made it difficult to find work. Michelle receives unemployment benefits but they aren’t always on time. She tried turning to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but her family qualifies for only $30 worth of benefits, so she said it isn’t worth the effort to apply.

“I really need this right now,” Michelle shared.

The gap Michelle is experiencing – between the benefits needed to make ends meet and what she qualifies to receive – is often referred to as the “SNAP gap.” Unfortunately, the phenomenon is common.

Sheila, a senior who also attended July’s Mobile Pantry along with her 2-year-old granddaughter, doesn’t qualify for SNAP at all. Like many grandparents during the summertime, Sheila is the primary weekday caregiver for her grandkids.

“The 8-year-old – he eats constantly and I’m on limited income,” she said.

Receiving groceries at Mobile Pantries ensures her three grandkids have full plates throughout the week.

Dan, a senior, sits in his car. He wears suspenders that say "John Dear" on them.
Neighbors like Dan bring fresh produce from their own gardens to Marcellus’ pantry. At times, Dan himself receives food from the Mobile Pantry.

When neighbors like Michelle and Sheila can’t make ends meet, Feeding America West Michigan will continue to fill the gaps with the help of our agency partners like Marcellus Community Food Pantry and generous sponsors like the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation.

Story written by Communication Assistant Juliana Ludema.