All ages welcome at Mobile Pantries — whether they’re serving or receiving

It’s not unusual to see kids helping out at Mobile Food Pantries. As long as they can sort food into boxes or load cars (and parents can keep a close eye on younger kids as cars roll through the line), Mobile Pantries are a great way for kids to serve neighbors in need.

Sarah and her sons.

That’s the reason Sarah brought her two young sons to help out at a Mobile Pantry in Coopersville last month.

“It’s good to show them that there are people less fortunate than them. It’s important to instill in them to give back and help others,” she said. “It’s a good learning experience to help be selfless and do tasks assigned to you.”

As Sarah and her sons joined other community members setting up the Mobile Pantry, sorting fresh peaches and putting boxes in cars, Judith, age 77, drove through the line.

When Judith had a stroke three years ago, she couldn’t talk for six months and was ultimately forced to quit her real estate job. She was disappointed because, although she was already well into her 70s, she’d planned to work for a few more years!

Her whole life, Judith has been very independent. From learning to paint her home to changing the oil in her car, she’s never been afraid to learn something new and do it herself. Since her stroke, a lot of that has changed. Needing help — whether that’s with a household repair or getting enough food — has been challenging for her to accept at times.

“It’s embarrassing for people [to ask for help] and I understand that,” she said. “I was divorced when I was young. I had three daughters. My husband left with his girlfriend. I worked two or three times a day to take care of my kids.”

Although Judith may need a little more help these days, she continues to help others, too. For example, she’ll bring extra food she receives from Mobile Pantries to 90-year-olds from her church or to a young couple she knows is experiencing difficulty filling their kids’ plates.

“I love it,” she said of the food distributions. “I like the fish and vegetables. Everybody is wonderful.”

After a life of service to family and community, Judith more than deserves to receive any help she needs.

“I’ve [helped others] all my life and I’m glad — it makes me happy,” she said.

Whether they’re children or seniors, there’s a place for everyone at a Mobile Food Pantry — serving, receiving and giving back. Feeding America West Michigan is honored to support hunger-relief efforts in communities like Coopersville with the help of organizations like the Community Action Fund of the Coopersville Area Community Foundation, a Mobile Pantry sponsor.