Community Organizations Show Up to Provide More at Local Mobile Food Pantry

Michael (left) and Sarah (right) smile while sitting in their car and holding up peace signs with their fingers

Feeding America West Michigan partners with local agencies to distribute nutritious, supplemental groceries to neighbors in need through its Mobile Food Pantry program. While food is at the core of this service, many of the food bank’s Mobile Pantry partners recognize that food might not be the only form of support neighbors need, and that Mobile Pantries aren’t designed to provide everything a family needs. That’s why many of the food bank’s Mobile Pantry partners find ways to provide additional resources.

Hamilton Schools is one of these Mobile Pantry partners. The school recruited the help of multiple community groups to provide neighbors with pet food, protein boxes and non-food items such as hand sanitizer, shampoo and conditioner. All of this was offered in addition to the food provided by Feeding America West Michigan.

Four volunteers stand behind bags of dog and cat food

Jenna, the Hamilton Schools Mobile Food Pantry coordinator from Ottawa Community Schools Network, played a big part in bringing everyone together.

“It’s really nice to know that with all the different partners coming together we can meet the needs here in Hamilton.”

Haven Reformed Church is one of the organizations that helped out. They sent over a group of volunteers to provide pet food to any neighbors with cats or dogs. Pets are a part of so many families and buying them food is an added expense that families may not be able to afford. Offering this food at the Mobile Pantry was appreciated by many.

Hungry For Christ, a nonprofit food bank in Hamilton, is the organization that provided 20-pound protein boxes for every person that came through the line.

A low supply of meat products nationwide has made it difficult for both the food bank and consumers to obtain a variety of protein options. Hungry For Christ’s contribution helped bridge that gap for over 80 families. They believe that protein is important for so many because “it’s the center of the plate.”

Tracy smiles while holding a protein box from Hungry For Christ

Tracy from Hunger For Christ shared her perspective at their first distribution.

“What I see here is a community coming together. The pet food people are here, volunteers are here, multiple different churches, different people from all throughout the community.”

The protein boxes were especially appreciated by Sarah and Michael, who have two young kids.

“[The protein will] help build [the kids’] bones up. There’s a lot of things out there right now that aren’t really available. Everybody can use some. It’s a big benefit to have organizations like Feeding America West Michigan and Hungry For Christ.”

Sarah and Michael have also seen the effects from inflation causing food to be more expensive for everyone in their community.

Michael (left) and Sarah (right) smile while sitting in their car and holding up peace signs with their fingers

As the coordinator, Jenna hears the stories of numerous community members and she also noted that rising prices are a huge issue for Hamilton families.

“Cost of living is a huge [barrier] that we’ve seen with more and more of our families that come to our distributions. Gas prices, too. Families are saying, ‘If [food from the Mobile Pantries] is here and it’s available, then we can better meet our needs right here in Hamilton and put what our grocery bill would have been toward other needs like utilities and rent.’ All around, families are hurting and if we can help meet a need to lessen the stress in the household, let’s do it.”

Mobile Food Pantries in Allegan County are able to be a focal point for the community to come together thanks to the financial support of organizations like Perrigo.

Story written by Content Specialist Kelly Reitsma