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Categorized | Featured, News

Feeding the hungry this summer

By Judy Reed

Summer is finally here, and it means lots of carefree days for kids all over the area. But with kids no longer in school, it also means a good number of kids won’t have access to a nutritious meal. But there are some ways to combat that hunger.

Meet Up and Eat Up

Cedar Springs Public Schools hopes to help the hunger problem by hosting the Meet Up and Eat Up program, a free breakfast and lunch program from the Summer Food Service Program that they have hosted for several years now. The program runs Monday through Thursday, June 11-August 16 (except July 2-6) and is hosted at Red Hawk Elementary. Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., and lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Children 18 years or younger can participate, as can those who are disabled, regardless of age, who participate in a public or non-profit private school program established for the mentally or physically disabled.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was created to ensure that children in lower-income areas could continue to receive nutritious meals during long school vacations, when they do not have access to the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs. Please call Holly Haywood, Director of Food Services, at 696-0372 with any questions. 

Mobile Food Pantry

Another way for families to get food this summer is through a mobile food pantry coming to the Hilltop Administration building’s south (lower) parking lot on the second Monday of each month. The first one will be this next Monday, June 11, at 12:30 p.m. The other two dates are July 9 and August 13.

According to Jodi West, of the Kent School News Network (KSSN), Feeding America offers fresh produce (usually local and seasonal), dairy products. and other food and grocery products. She visited one recently that foods such as asparagus, cabbage, potatoes, onions, apples, breads, pastries, milk and craisins.  

West said there are no requirements to receive the food, other than the person must deem they are in need. No proof of income is required. “They do need to register with us before they get the food. We can start registering folks at noon at the site,” she explained.

She also said it’s best if people come prepared with their own boxes and/or bags.

Lean on Me

Lean On Me, a ministry of Resurrection Life Church, is another agency that will give food and other items to those in need. It is located at 11555 Edgerton Ave NE, Rockford, MI, just south of 14 Mile Rd. Office hours are 9 a.m.–Noon, Monday-Saturday. Food distributions are 5 p.m.–8 p.m., Monday; and 9 a.m. to Noon, Wednesday and Friday. If you need help or would like to help, please give them a call: (616) 866-3999. Or you can email them at info@leanonmeoutreach.org.

North Kent Connect

Another agency that is instrumental in helping the needy in northern Kent County is North Kent Connect, near the corner of Northland Drive and 12 Mile Rd. According to Katie Hop, of NKC, clients can visit The Market (their food pantry) once a month. But they do need to be clients of North Kent Connect and check in with a Case Manager before visiting. Potential clients need to fall within 200 percent of the poverty guidelines to qualify for our services. Individuals who are interested in learning more about becoming a NKC client can reach out to a Case Manager at (616) 866-3478.

Clients can be sure they will be getting healthy food at NKC. “We have a Healthy Food Policy that influences what we put in The Market,” explained Hop. “We’ve eliminated highly-processed, high sodium, high fat, and high sugar foods from our food programs, and we focus on providing whole food options. Some of the items available in The Market are fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and lean meats; we are working with donors to provide wholesome foods to our community. We also are working toward offering more gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan items.”

For more information on all of the food programs they offer, including Senior Pantry, Senior Commodities, Federal Commodities, Meals on Wheels, and referrals to their five support pantries, visit their website at www.nkconnect.org.

For those that would like to help, North Kent Connect currently has several needs. Please pick up one or more of these items the next time you’re at the grocery store:

  • mandarin oranges
  • pineapples
  • spinach
  • mushrooms
  • beets
  • collard greens
  • peas and carrot mix

They are also in need of flour, shampoo and conditioner, and feminine hygiene products.

Donation hours are Monday-Thursday from 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

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