GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Marketplace at Baxter Community Center located at 935 Baxter St SE served fewer families early on in the pandemic. But as summer approaches, they’re seeing a steady increase of people in need.
Part of the reason for the slow down, where food boxes provided for many families by the USDA through the Cares Act of 2020, is that offer has expired. And, as executive director of the Baxter Community Center Sonja Forte explains, there’s also a misconception around who relies on the food pantries.
“We serve about 425 families each month," Sonja says. "The majority of the folks that are working and are still falling short, and what it does is it allows people to have that freedom to not miss a beat, to not wonder where their next meal is coming from.”
“Summer Stock Up is a brand new event here in West Michigan, to help address food insecurity in the state of Michigan," explains Heart of West Michigan United Way spokesperson Katelyn Olsen. "And we’re doing so by running a month-long fundraiser and food drive all benefiting food pantries and non-profit agencies that serve our neighbors.”
According to data collected by the United Way in 2019, 35% of the people living in Kent County are struggling to meet their basic needs, and in the past year, Heart of West Michigan United Way’s 211 resource line received over 120,000 calls.
Starting on June 1, you can make a donation to help families in West Michigan make ends meet.
“Agencies like Baxter Community Center have seen an increase in traffic because word is spreading that there are these amazing non-profit agencies and pantries around the corner from their home that help provide healthy nutritious meals and helps makes access to food so much easier for them," Katelyn says.
“Money is actually more impactful because we’re able to buy from places that you as an individual can't buy from and so we’re able to stretch your dollars out further," says Sonja. "But there’s also this feeling that you get when you buy items and you’re able to give them, and a lot of times if they’re a group and they’re thinking of things to do I always say do a drive of sort.”
To make a donation, text the word PANTRY to 5-0-5-0-3.
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