Everybody eats: Local nonprofits address food insecurity during the holiday season

Food is a staple when it comes to celebrating the holidays, so what happens when one’s access to nutrition is reduced? These local organizations bridge the accessibility gap to distribute nutrition to community members who need it most.

Community Compassion Network

Located at 1114 West High St. in the William and Janet Strickler Nonprofit Center, the Community Compassion Network offers benefits to anyone residing in Isabella County.

Andrew Miller, chair of the board of Community Compassion Network, says the nonprofit helped 75 new families in the month of October. The organization has also seen an increase from 375 to nearly 500 families served per week since the onset of COVID-19.

“Many of our guests have lost jobs due to Covid-19, while others work multiple jobs to try to make ends meet,” Says Miller.

Interested parties can access food on the second and fourth Wednesday and Saturday of the month. Wednesdays, food can be accessed from 2-4:30 p.m; Saturdays, the hours are 9-11 a.m. Households can access the pantry twice a month, and distribution is currently accessed through drive through only. Miller requests that guests access the drive through via High St.

Little Downtown Pantry

While the Little Downtown Pantry is committed to helping people struggling with food insecurity, it also needs help keeping its shelves stocked.

“We established the Little Downtown Pantry using the model of the Little Pantry movement: ‘Give what you can, take what you need,’” Little Downtown Pantry Director Sue Pung says. “This worked well for a time but it was soon apparent that the need was much greater than the individual generosity of church and community members could meet.”

Found at the west airlock of First United Methodist Church, 400 S. Main St., the LDP is open from noon to 3 p.m. daily.
One of the multiple grants helping shelves stay in rotation is the The United Way of Gratiot and Isabella County and Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation joint Covid-19 Relief Funds.

Covid-19 has affected the pantry in more ways than one, however. Pung says a beneficiary of the nonprofit who had been laid off due to the pandemic visited for about four months.

“After she was employed again, she called the church office to ask if she could help the most by bringing in items or cash. She wanted to help because others had helped her in her time of need,” Pung says.

Found at the west airlock of First United Methodist Church, 400 S. Main St., the LDP is open from noon to 3 p.m. daily. Updates can be found on the nonprofit’s FaceBook page.

Residents of Isabella County are eligible for food pickup. Currently, the pantry does not require any other credentials to prove need but does require social distancing and proper mask usage.

Isabella Community Soup Kitchen

Like the aforementioned nonprofits, Isabella Community Soup Kitchen will serve any Isabella County residents. Provisions are distributed drive through style on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the organization’s 621 S. Adams St. location.

The Isabella Community Soup Kitchen distributes food drive through style on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the organization’s 621 S. Adams St. location.
“Prior to COVID-19 we served, on average, 90-100 meals each day, with three or four for children,” Isabella Community Soup Kitchen Executive Director Sarah Adkins says. “We are now serving over 250 meals each day, with at least 30 of those going to children. We served 300 meals last Friday; our highest number yet.”

Adkins says the kitchen’s beneficiaries come from all walks of life; seniors, children, veterans, single-parent families, those who are unemployed or underemployed, as well as those between homes.

The volume of meals provided, Adkins says, is possible through community and private donations, volunteers, grant funding, and ICSK staff.

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