Access of West Michigan pantry
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Nearly one in every six Kent County residents currently receive FAP/SNAP and each one will be affected by a cut in government food assistance.
Michigan is losing $1.8 million. For a family of four, the cut will take away about $36 a month.
These cuts may not seem like a lot, but struggling families told us every dollar counts. We want to show where the pantries are to get help, but there's also the flip side: Access of West Michigan expects more traffic and will need the public's help.
For Rita Simon, a cut to her family's food assistance will mean stretching the basics a little further. "I don't have $36 a month for food," she said. "Look at this, I mean here's fish, there's 4-5 meals in this bag right here. Loaf of bread, vegetables, soup."
Thankfully, Simon knows where to come for her staples once a month: The Northwest Pantry, one of 75 food pantries in Kent County. "You can take something out of that bin right there," volunteer Noreen Boluyt told her.
With the cuts starting Friday, we want to give people an idea of where they can go for food. The Access of West Michigan website has a list of pantries and a map.
LINK: List of pantries
LINK: Pantries on a map
Ottawa County has approximately 15 pantries, Muskegon County 10, and Allegan County 8.
The problem is that traffic to the Access Pantry Network of Kent Co alone is already up 5,000 people compared to this time last year. "Overall giving has gone down and down," said Eric Keener, Asst. Exec. Director of Access of West Michgan.
Because of these cuts, Access expects the number of people coming in to get food to increase by about 20 percent. "Which is going to put a lot of stress on us," said Keener.
So they need your help to help keep their shelves stocked.
"We have to have the food pantry to survive. Everyone needs the food pantry," said Simon.
In Michigan, cash assistance to buy food is added to debit cards once a month, so some recipients will notice the decline earlier in November and others later in the month.
The United Way also has contacts for all the Access of West Michigan pantries, call (616) 459-2255.