The Second Harvest Food Shelf is open five days a week to help local families meet their basic needs. On a typical day the food shelf serves an average of 50 households that need food assistance with over 2,700 pounds of food. By the end of a month over 50,000 pounds of food is distributed to help meet the demand and keep local people from going hungry. In 2014, Second Harvest Food Shelf distributed over 800,000 pounds (400 tons) of food to people in need in the greater Grand Rapids area.
“The Food Shelf has struggled to keep the shelves full when we see such high need each and every month. Typically, donations are up during the holiday season, but resources dwindle throughout the winter months and into the spring, so the March Campaign comes at a very critical time. All donations stay local to help provide food and hope to the families who count on us for their next meal,” according to Ellen Christmas, Second Harvest Program Manager. She continued, “The impact of even a small donation is significant, not only because of the FoodShare allocation, but because for every dollar donated, we can provide five meals to feed local men, women and children who are skipping meals and making hard choices between buying food or other necessities.
Hunger has a negative impact on the whole community, especially children and seniors. The high cost of housing, food, medicine, and utilities places tremendous stress on families already living on the edge. The Second Harvest Food Shelf provides a safety net that ensures local people have enough food. Recently clients wrote in their own words how the Food Shelf helps them:
- “By using the Food Shelf I am able to get my prescriptions filled instead of having to go without medication to buy food.”
- “Without the Food Shelf we would go hungry 4 -7 days of the month because prices are so high and bills must be paid before any food shopping is done.”
- “I come to the food shelf so my disabled Mom can eat.”
- “It’s priceless to watch the kid’s faces light up when you walk in the door with groceries!”
Every person who turns to the Food Shelf for help has their own, unique story as to why they find themselves in need. For most people, it is a humbling, if not humiliating experience to ask for help from a food shelf to feed yourself or your family.
Recently, a 34 year old working father of four daughters – a 6-year-old, 4-year-old twins, and a 2-year-old came to the Second Harvest Food Shelf. He works out of town, and one of the reasons they come to the Food Shelf is that they have very high daycare costs, due to both parents working, a job that requires traveling, and having only one child in school. He was very grateful for the food he received at the Food Shelf. It helps his family pay the bills and still have food to eat.
He stated, “It has been a major help to keep our family healthy and have the variety of foods we can’t afford at the grocery store. It is a good resource - to know that we can come here when we need to. I also pick up groceries for my elderly grandmother who has been the caretaker of my mentally handicapped uncle for the last 53 years. She has very little income for the two of them. The Food Shelf helps them get the food they need to get by and so she can care for him at home.”
The FoodShare March Campaign is an opportunity for the entire community to provide support for local people in need of food assistance. The deadline to receive dollars or food donations to count for the March FoodShare Campaign is April 3, 2015. Donations can be made in person, on-line or by mail. For more information contact Ellen Christmas at Second Harvest Food Bank, 326.4420 ext 25 or visit www.secondharvestncfb.com.