“I would’ve gone without food if it weren’t for the food here”

Mary smiling while holding a box of food in front of the Mobile Pantry

At least 1 in 10 people in Ionia County are food insecure, which means there are thousands of neighbors in need of food assistance residing in that area. In order to bring much-needed food to those in need, the food bank offers our Mobile Food Pantry program. Mobile Pantries are essentially farmer’s markets on wheels that provide fresh groceries at no cost.

Neighbors in need of food assistance showed up to the Mobile Pantry at Saranac Community Church and left with grocery items like apples, tomatoes, onions, milk, bread and more.

One neighbor, Mary, unexpectedly began to take care of her grandchildren years ago. She comes to get food from the Mobile Food Pantries since it has been expensive to take care of everything they need, such as housing and medical bills, while living on disability income.

“Children are expensive and getting food here is what I do so I can pay my bills. It has been extremely helpful.”

She has especially appreciated getting milk.

“I was going through a gallon a day.”

Mary also picks up food for a friend of hers, Christen, who greatly appreciates the fact that the Mobile Food Pantries offer fresh foods.

“She is glucose free, so the Mobile Pantry has helped her since its fresh food—it’s stuff she can actually use,” Mary said.

Due to her dietary restrictions, Christen has been struggling with getting enough food to eat, but now that she is able to get produce from the Mobile Pantries she said it has been “wonderful having so much more to eat now.”

Alice smiling while sitting in her car

Another neighbor, Alice, has had to live without a furnace for the past four years, causing her to use electric heaters which have made her electric bill quite expensive. She lives on her own and has run into numerous problems, like her dishwasher and washing machine both breaking, making it difficult for her to pay her bills—especially with her limited social security income. The food she receives from Mobile Food Pantries has meant a lot to her in these moments of need.

“There’s times where I would’ve gone without food if it weren’t for the food here.”

In the past, she had numerous extreme health problems occur all in one year. Multiple heart attacks, chemical burns, and a broken arm that still isn’t healed to this day. And at that time, she couldn’t always afford gas to make it to her doctor’s appointments.

“If I don’t have money for gas to go to a heart doctor, how would I get food? I’ve learned that we get put in spots that we don’t plan on.”

She has seen how the food from Mobile Pantries has helped so many in her community: younger people, older people, people with jobs that don’t pay enough to get the food they need and more.

“If you weren’t doing [Mobile Pantries], there’s a lot of people that would go hungry.”

Volunteer smiles while holding up a box of food

Stories like Mary’s and Alice’s remind us that hunger can affect anyone for a wide range of reasons. According to the USDA, more than half of people in America live paycheck-to-paycheck. One big expense, such as a medical bill, car accident or another emergency can make it more difficult to make ends meet and to afford enough nutritious food. That’s what makes programs like the Mobile Food Pantry so important in the work to end hunger today. Thanks to the generosity of organizations like Cargill, we can continue to bring fresh groceries to neighbors in Ionia County through our Mobile Pantry Program!

Written by Content Specialist Kelly Reitsma