How One Kent County Mobile Pantry Works to Meet An Increasing Need for Food

Woman holding a box of food at a Mobile Pantry

In 2023, we have seen a 33% rise in the number of families attending our Mobile Food Pantries across West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

This is indicative of an increase in the need for food in our community, due to the rising cost of living, including housing and healthcare. As the local food bank here to serve all neighbors facing hunger, we know it is essential for us to provide the food people need, not only to survive—but to thrive.

That’s why our Mobile Food Pantries exist as an avenue to make food more easily accessible by bringing food directly into high-need communities.

One Mobile Food Pantry in Kent County takes place at Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church (CRC), and they shared with us how they’ve been working to meet an increased need for food in their community.

Steve and his wife at a Mobile Food Pantry

Steve is the Coordinator for the Woodlawn CRC Mobile Pantry and has been running the program as a partner of the food bank since 2011.

He’s been a part of the Mobile Pantry program for over 10 years, which means he saw how the COVID-19 pandemic made it more difficult for people to access the food they need. And as soon as COVID ended, inflation hit and he noticed that people still to this day don’t have enough money to get the food they need.

“Since we started this, we’ve seen a continuous uptick over the years, especially this last year with inflation. We’ve seen a major increase in the need for food in the community.”

His entire motivation for helping his community by volunteering to coordinate the Mobile Pantries is caring for his neighbors, who he knows are facing numerous challenges as they try to make ends meet every day.

Woman in her car at a Mobile Pantry

Toni is one neighbor who comes to the Mobile Pantries to help fill in the gaps her family faces when trying to provide for a large group of people.

“I have a granddaughter who has nine children. As much as we try, the ends never really meet.”

She said that her family is easily able to build off the supplemental groceries they receive at the Mobile Pantries to make meals they all can enjoy. Their family especially likes using the fresh produce!

Woman holding a box of food at a Mobile Pantry

Sonya showed up to this Mobile Food Pantry for her first time after hearing about it through her coworker. She is a Dental Assistant who works hard to provide for her family every day, but has noticed how increasing prices make things more difficult.

“The food from this will help out a lot. Food is so expensive. Every little bit counts.”

Her mother has Alzheimer’s and moved in with her sister after her father passed away. She said that now that she knows about the Mobile Pantries as a food assistance resource, her family will greatly benefit from the help they can receive through the program.

A box of food containing grapes, yogurt and more!

Stories like these of Toni and Sonya show how Mobile Food Pantries are a life changing help to so many in the community. Everyone deserves to have access to the nourishing food they need, and that is why we work to provide millions of pounds of supplemental, fresh groceries through our Mobile Pantries to hundreds of thousands of people in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula every year.

Mobile Food Pantries in Kent County, like this one at Woodlawn CRC, would not be possible without the support from organizations like Amway, Gun Lake Casino and Reefer Services Inc. We thank these organizations for their generosity and dedication to taking action as we work together to end hunger!