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Rural Hunger | Here are resources to help families struggling with food insecurity in rural communities

People living in rural communities face economic challenges.

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — When you think of food insecurity you might believe this is only an issue in densely populated urban areas but people living in rural communities also face economic challenges.

There are services available to people in northern Kent County that can help.

Located in Rockford, MI is North Kent Connect.

An organization committed to improving the lives of people in northern Kent County including cities like Sparta, Kent City, Cedar Springs, and more.

“We see a lot of families that are sort of disconnected from a lot of services here in northern kent county. So, you know, imagine, everything they need is further away," Catherine Landers, director of client services, said. 

With the rise in gas prices and high inflation, budgets are being stretched to the limit.

“Things are more expensive when you are on the margins, every dollar counts. So, when you're paying, you know, 10% more for something, it has a big impact," Landers said.

Staff at North Kent Connect say they have noticed an increase in people coming in to utilize its free pantry.

“We did increase our income eligibility for our food pantry. So, folks, you know, even a family of four can make, you know, up to $6,000 a month and still be able to just come in for food," Landers said.

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North Kent Connect also has a farm stand stocked with locally sourced produce including fresh fruit and vegetables.

“Inflation has not yet hit the farm stand because we're we don't have a middleman. We are direct to the farmer or direct to the producer," Beverly Bouma, food programs manager, said. 

The farm stand is open to everyone, not just clients.

“We purchase all this local food and we put it at two price points, or retail price and a discount price, which makes fresh fruit accessible to everyone," Bouma said.

You choose which price you want to pay green is the retail value and yellow is discounted.

If you do buy at the green dot amount that money is rolled back into the program.

“By purchasing at the green dot, you are actually supporting our yellow dot shoppers," Bouma said.

No matter where you live know there are people in your community that may be struggling luckily there are things you can do and resources available that can help.

To learn more about North Kent Connect click here.

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