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'JOIN TOGETHER' | Kentwood needs help stocking free little food pantry

Kentwood has been operating a free, little pantry since 2017 and the demand for food has gone up. City leaders say they can't stock the shelves fast enough.
Credit: 13 ON YOUR SIDE/Matt Gard

KENTWOOD, Mich. — Against the gray October sky, a strong gust of wind blows a white flag right outside of the Kentwood Activities Center on 48th Street Southeast. The flag dons the city's seal, reading "City of Kentwood: A Community Effort."

That three-word motto is something recreation program coordinator Ann Przybysz takes to heart, especially when it comes to the city's free little pantry.

"I feel like this is just one example of a community coming together, and an effort to help our neighbors, and help our fellow man, and just show people that we care," she said.

The Little Free Pantry initiative began in 2017 as a community service project in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. People can drop off or take food whenever they need it. No questions are asked. No applications need to be filled out.

The pantry began at the Kentwood Activities Center and it's expanded to include a second location at the Kentwood District Library on Breton Avenue. But the pantry isn't the only thing expanding. Demand for food has gone up in the last five years, too.

"Everyone is still kind of coping with coming back from the pandemic, and also the cost of everything is going up these days," Przybysz said.

According to the city, 14.6% of Kentwood's population lives below the poverty line and more than 5,000 people require food assistance.

"Normally around the holidays, we see a big jump in donations, but we really need that all year long, just to continue helping and supporting our community here," Przybysz said.

"We just can't stock the shelves fast enough. We are very often running out of food, because people are using this resource. We're so happy to offer this resource and we just need some help restocking it."

The city has a list on its website of items that they need. You may drop off food at any of the following locations:

  • Kentwood Activities Center, 355 48th St. SE: Donations may be dropped off 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.
  • Kentwood City Hall, 4900 Breton Ave. SE: Donations may be placed inside the collection bin 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and 7:30 a.m. to noon Friday.
  • Kent District Library – Kentwood (Richard L. Root) Branch, 4950 Breton Ave. SE: Donations may be placed inside the collection bin located in the lobby from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.
  • Kentwood Justice Center, 4740 Walma Ave. SE: Donations may be placed inside the collection bin 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Kentwood Public Works, 5068 Breton Ave. SE: Donations may be placed inside the collection bin 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"It's been a really awesome opportunity for our community to get involved and help our participants, and it's been a great opportunity for everyone to kind of join together and serve this need," Przybysz said. 

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