All neighbors are welcomed with open arms—and sometimes with hamburgers and hotdogs—at the Mobile Food Pantries Brotherhood of All Nations hosts each month. At one Mobile Pantry held this spring, the church’s volunteers came out early, despite the rain, to grill food for neighbors as they waited in line.
Margaret, a retired educator, was one neighbor in line. She shared that it’s been harder for her to make ends meet lately with the rise in cost of living. She lives with her son who works, but he doesn’t make enough to support them both right now.
“Food is so expensive, and I don’t get SNAP or nothing like that, so it really helps a lot,” she said.
Education has always been important to Margaret. She majored in social work, which she said was incredibly important to her, as she was the first of 13 kids in her family to go to college. After getting her degree, she worked in a variety of positions, namely in customer service, and eventually taught a GED preparation course.
Although she’s been retired for a few years, she’s considering returning to work because of how desperately the local schools in Benton Harbor need teachers. She originally applied to work as a guidance counselor, but the school is encouraging her to return to work as a full-time social studies teacher.
Margaret enjoys playing board games and having big dinners with her family. She’s a great cook and said the best dessert she makes is German chocolate cake.
“The best dinner I could probably make anyone is spinach lasagna or broccoli casserole—that’s the best food,” she said.
At first, Margaret wasn’t sure she should attend the Mobile Pantries, but now she tells all her friends about them. When she needs support, Mobile Pantries help her put food on the table.
“It’s very helpful to a lot of people,” she said. “Some people don’t have food and can’t get food. This helps out a lot.”
Lena, another neighbor in line, concurred:
“It really really helps me out with the meats and vegetables,” she said. “I love vegetables—any green vegetables. There’s not many I don’t like.”
Similar to Margaret, Lena can’t get support from SNAP. She said she makes ends meet by budgeting and receiving supplemental groceries from Mobile Pantries.
Feeding America West Michigan is able to provide Mobile Food Pantries to neighbors in Benton Harbor and other parts of Southwest Michigan thanks in part to the generosity of the United Way of Southwest Michigan, the Frederick S. Upton Foundation (affiliate of the Berrien County Community Foundation) and the Rotary Club of St Joseph-Benton Harbor. Their support—and the generosity of our partners such as Brotherhood of All Nations—means neighbors like Margaret and Lena can continue to access food they need.
Story written by Communication and Marketing Specialist Juliana Ludema.