In 2020, Rob and Reyna Mathis noticed a need in their community when kids were no longer able to depend on the meals they typically received from their schools due to shutdowns during the pandemic. They reached out to friends of theirs online and rallied people together who were able to donate food for their neighbors who needed it. They ended up making lunches for children in the North Muskegon area for three months due to continuous donations from their community. As the food donations kept up, they broadened their reach and gave food out at other locations around the city.
Throughout the course of distributing food, they realized their neighbors were in need of other items as well, such as clothing or furniture. They utilized the online connections made from collecting food donations, and things took off from there.
What began as simply tapping into their online network to connect their neighbors with any items they were in need of, has now expanded into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Citi Boi Corporation.
Citi Boi works to help their community overcome any barriers they may be facing by reallocating goods and services to those in need. They connect people with food, school supplies, clothing, housing and other resources.
“Lots of people are impacted by hard times. We don’t judge. Whatever they need, if we have it, we’ll give it to them,” said Rob. Reyna added, “People struggle with different things every day, and we don’t have any judgement. Our doors are always open. It’s changed a lot of people’s lives already.”
As part of their work to bridge the gap for food insecure people in their community, Citi Boi partners with Feeding America West Michigan to host a Mobile Food Pantry.
Rob has seen the food from Mobile Pantries be incredibly beneficial for their community, particularly since so many necessities are expensive right now.
“Think about people that are on Social Security. They have a fixed income, and that income has been budgeted out. But, with the cost of food being higher and the cost of rent going up, you can’t afford what you used to be able to. Mobile Pantries every month help fill a void with food.”
Reyna said that the number of people served through their Mobile Pantries has grown every time they host one—from around 200 people this past January to over 400 this past July.
“People need it, and it’s helped a lot of people.”
Annette has been volunteering at various Mobile Pantries in the Muskegon area for years, but she just recently started helping out at the ones hosted by Citi Boi.
She has been encouraged to volunteer by the multiple groups she is involved with that emphasize service. When the opportunity arose to help with the Mobile Pantries, she immediately took it up!
“The food always looks good and it’s a real gift to be able to help pass it on to people that can use it.”
Dominga typically volunteers at the Mobile Food Pantries hosted by Citi Boi as well, but due to an injury she had to take a step back from helping out.
Instead, she came to the Mobile Pantry to pick up some food for herself and a friend who was sick and unable to make it on their own.
She was able to take home ground beef, tomatoes, bread, apples, potatoes, cucumbers and more!
From her combined experiences of being a volunteer and also benefitting from the food herself, she says that “everybody finds the food helpful.”
She is a widow and has found that expensive prices at the stores on top of being single has made it especially difficult to get the food she needs.
Mobile Food Pantries exist to help neighbors like Dominga access the food they need to live a healthy, fulfilled life. We are so grateful for organizations like Citi Boi who join us in the work to end hunger for our communities. Together, we can continue to change lives—one meal at a time.
Written by Content Specialist Kelly Reitsma