Changing Lives Through Better Access to Nutritious Food

Box of apples

Across our service area, it consistently holds true that high prices in grocery stores are making it increasingly difficult for people to access the nutritious food they need to live an active, healthy life. This especially applies to produce items like fresh fruits and vegetables.

The inaccessibility of fresh foods for so many in the area we serve has made our Mobile Food Pantry program even more important as it serves to bring these hard-to-get fresh groceries directly to people in need of food assistance.

Numerous neighbors at one Mobile Pantry held at Living Waters Community Church in Allegan County shared sentiments explaining how this plays out in their lives right now.

Woman smiling while sitting in her car at a Mobile Pantry

High prices and limited incomes are what led Brandy and Mary to come receive food.

Brandy isn’t able to receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which leaves her with little money to allocate toward buying food for her family with 4 kids.

“[The Mobile Pantry] helps us make our money go a little further. I like fruits and vegetables, but that stuff is really expensive right now.”

On top of being a hard-working mother, she is also the caretaker for her mother, Mary, who is a senior living on a fixed income.

Mary does qualify for SNAP, but says it’s not enough to buy more than a week’s worth of groceries with the prices of food these days.

“[Food from here] helps supplement. It’s hard to get more fruits and veggies these days, but you guys have some great stuff on these trucks. Now we eat more fruit!”

Man and woman smiling while waiting in their car at a Mobile Food Pantry

Dorothy and John are also seniors living on a fixed income who showed up to the Mobile Pantry in order to get some fresh food that they otherwise have a hard time purchasing.

“Because of this food, we can pay our bills that we need to pay. We’re on a budget, so this helps a lot.”

James is another neighbor who was at the Mobile Pantry to pick up some food for him and his wife. When asked what led him to coming to receive food, he said, “My income is low. I’m on Social Security, and coming here helps pay the bills so we can keep on top of it.”

He isn’t able to afford internet for his home, so he utilized his local library to find Mobile Pantries near him. Now he comes whenever he finds himself in need of additional food. Meat products are what he says he needs the most, since they’re “so expensive right now.”

Volunteer holding up a box of tomatoes

With so many other essentials that need to be paid for like rent, medicine, housing and transportation, food often is not able to be prioritized.

So often we hear stories like these about how limited incomes and high prices just don’t leave enough room in people’s budgets for enough food. We believe this is unacceptable, since everyone needs food to live a full life.

Because of this, as the local food bank serving 40 counties in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, we take action every day to help increase access to nutritious food! Our Mobile Food Pantry program is a significant way in which we make this a priority.

The result of these efforts can be shown by looking at the overall product makeup for Mobile Pantries in Allegan County. They consist of over 56% produce, followed by over 14% dairy and over 7% protein. The exact food items available always vary, but one example of the type of produce mix that is distributed is the apples, mushrooms, tomatoes, peaches and more that neighbors took home from the Living Waters Community Church Mobile Pantry.

This project is made possible in part by a grant from the Allegan County Community Foundation. Mobile Pantries in Allegan are also made possible through the support of Perrigo. We are so thankful for the support of organizations like these that help ensure people in our community have access to the food they need to thrive!

Written by Content Specialist Kelly Reitsma