MUSKEGON, Mich. — The Loaves and Fishes food pantry closed last week, and right now the pantry's shelves and freezers are empty.
That draw-down of supplies was planned, according to Catholic Charities West Michigan Program Manager Jeff Hoyh.
The pantry is moving to one of two new locations and will reopen later this year with a new name, operated by Harbor of Grace Lutheran Church.
"We're thankful that Harbor of Grace was able to step up and be able to take over that food pantry," Hoyh said Tuesday. "We're going to be there fully supporting what they're doing."
To facilitate a smooth transition, Catholic Charities West Michigan is donating pantry equipment including freezers, coolers, and shelving to Harbor of Grace.
Most weeks the pantry provided food to around 100 individuals.
"We're excited that we can expand our food ministries," said Rev. Jane Mountain, Harbor of Grace Lutheran Church pastor. "We have been in food ministries for some time, and it's very much an emphasis of our denomination — the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — and because of Christ's command to feed those who are hungry."
Mountain said the congregation will soon decide which of the church's two campuses will house the food pantry. Both are within one and a half miles of the current location at 1095 3rd Street.
One campus is on West Southern, another is located on Muskegon Avenue between 7th and 8th streets.
"There are a lot of details to work out," Mountain said. "Something like this is a very large project and we'll need community support."
Catholic Charities is building a new Muskegon facility on Park Street. It's expected to open in 2021. Plans for the new building did not include a pantry because one already operates on the same block.
The new facility will house 80 Catholic Charities employees, provide counseling, family preservation services, foster care, adoption, pregnancy counseling, and other services. A second building at the Park Street property will house a new 14-bed detox center offering three to five night stays for those who need it.
Catholic Charities West Michigan continues to offer a free baby pantry, but due to COVID-19, the Muskegon Baby Pantry is by appointment-only until the new building opens.