“It’s all about community” at Marquette Mobile Food Pantries

Two clients sitting in car smiling

In Marquette County, neighbors work together to bring food to anyone who may need it. Often, individuals make their way to Mobile Food Pantries in order to pick up food for their own family’s needs, but there are also instances when people come to pick up food for neighbors they know could also use some food support.

As the coordinator of the Mobile Food Pantry at Silver Creek Thrift Store, Caitlyn has a firsthand look at how the community comes together to support one another.

“We see a lot of people picking up for others. [There are] multiple, multiple proxies because they tell us that their neighbor doesn’t have a car, or so and so is working and can’t afford to take time off and get the food they need.”

Lack of transportation is a huge barrier to food access and sharing food like this is one way to help overcome it. Especially in rural areas like much of the Upper Peninsula, driving long distances to get the food one may need is not always possible.

Nancy, a client, smiles while sitting in her car

Neighbors like Nancy, who lives in a very small community, are a great example of this. She showed up to the Mobile Food Pantry hosted by Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions in KI Sawyer that is 40 miles away from her home to pick up food for some of her neighbors who weren’t able to make the trip themselves.

“Our neighbors are all there to help each other. I have a lot of elderly neighbors, we have some veterans, and they can’t get up here. Food is always an issue, so I just kind of help out and drive around when I can.”

Karen picked up food for 7 families and is in a similar situation to Nancy. She is from a small, rural community, and some of her neighbors face difficulties with transportation and aren’t able to make it the 30 miles to the Silver Creek Thrift Store Mobile Pantry.

“Part of the problem is, they either don’t have a driver’s license, don’t have a vehicle, or are working so they can’t come.”

Food boxes lined up before being distributed

Alicia picked up food for 15 other families at the Mobile Food Pantry in KI Sawyer. She began showing up to Mobile Food Pantries to pick up food for herself after a neighbor of hers posted about it. Soon after, through word of mouth, information spread about the program and she heard from many neighbors who could benefit from the food but aren’t able to get it themselves.

“The program is very, very valuable. It really stretches the budget.”

Nancy, Karen and Alicia are just three examples showing how vital community is to feeding neighbors facing hunger in the Upper Peninsula.

Stephan, a volunteer, smiles while holding bags of carrots

Feeling called to help people in his community, Steve, who works in northern Michigan, volunteers at local Mobile Pantries.

“It’s all about community and living our words, doing what we believe.”

After seeing hundreds of cars in line, he clearly sees the need for food.

“This kind of program is critical for the community.”

As a former teacher, he has run into his past students at Mobile Pantries, and even if he hasn’t seen them for 20 years, they are still excited to speak with him. He grew up in Marquette but moved around to a few different states throughout his life. After COVID-19 hit, he decided to move back to the Upper Peninsula.

“No matter where I live, Marquette and this area will always be home. It’s just all good people here.”

Thanks to partnerships with organizations like Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions and Silver Creek Thrift Store, and the generosity of United Way of Marquette County, we are able to continue to fight hunger in Marquette County and the rest of our 40-county service area.