‘There’s just no way we could afford to make it now’: Mobile Pantries help neighbors in rural community

The couple sits on the back of their car holding milk and potatoes

After his father’s death, Ken and his wife Jackie moved to Evart—a small town in Osceola County—to support his mom. Now, they live together which helps make ends meet—especially with food and gas prices being so high right now.

“The three of us help each other,” Jackie said.

The couple sits on the back of their car holding milk and potatoes

Ken helps out with yardwork and Jackie cooks meals and runs errands. Together, they make it work, but at times they need a little extra help affording groceries. That’s why they attend Evart United Methodist Church’s monthly Mobile Pantries, where they receive plenty of fresh produce and other nutritious food to ensure their plates stay full.

“There’s just no way we could afford to make it now with the way prices are. We were struggling,” Jackie said. “It’s awesome how many people are willing to give up their time to [make this happen].”

Ken’s mom is retired and the couple lives on fixed incomes. Jackie’s income is quite small because she spent most of her adult years as a stay-at-home mom to three kids, who are now grown up. She reflected, “We don’t value our mothers like we should.”

According to Jean, Evart UMC’s pastor, Jackie and Ken’s situation reflects the experience of many Mobile Pantry attendees. She explained the majority of neighbors they serve are “seniors who are trying to make social security stretch for a month.”

It’s particularly challenging to make ends meet on a fixed income when the cost of living keeps rising. In Evart, many neighbors’ rent recently increased. Jean spoke with one woman last month whose rent went up $300.

A cart of boxes full of food waits to be distributed to neighbors

“She can’t afford groceries,” Jean said. “We hear a lot of those stories, so we know the need is there.”

Feeding America West Michigan brings 100+ Mobile Food Pantries to communities across our 40-county service area each month. We can only do that thanks to support from organizations like the General Mills Foundation (Hometown Grantmaking Program) and the Osceola County Community Foundation.