Pantry needs 'out of control' in Tri-Cities

Amanda Smith stood outside for about an hour in Friday morning’s chilly temperatures.
Krystle Wagner
Oct 26, 2013


Smith joined hundreds of community members who braved the weather to fill boxes and bags from the 10,000 pounds of food from the Feeding America mobile food pantry at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

The truck makes regular stops to the Grand Haven area twice a month in an effort to give Tri-Cities residents food, just as local food pantries continue to assist community needs.

Smith said her family uses the mobile food truck and services from Love INC. The Spring Lake woman wasn’t sure what they’d do without community support.

“It’s all about seeking sources,” she said.

Smith’s family began to use community resources when their food stamps were cut when they moved to the area a few months ago.

As Smith has sought a job a medical assistant job, said she’s learned to stretch her resources by canning foods and freezing produce.

Smith’s husband, who is a construction worker, was hesitant about seeking community help because of what people might say. Despite this, Smith said everyone has been kind and not judgmental.

“They’re helpful,” she said.

Love INC Executive Director Mark Green said they’ve experienced an increase in services throughout the past five years.

He said they previously served about 17 families a day for food, clothing and shelter needs. The organization now helps about 30 families a day.

Karen Reenders, director of The People Center in Spring Lake, said they served a record number of people in September.

Reenders said the average manageable amount is about 200 people a month, but they served more than 440 in September. She said they don’t know how to keep up.

“It’s out of control,” she said.

Capt. Sally Davis of the Grand Haven Salvation Army said they’ve experienced a consistent need as they help more than 300 people a month for food assistance.

During a visit to local food pantries, residents receive a three-day food supply. The agencies allow residents to visit their pantries up to six times a year.

Residents receive staple food items like rice, macaroni and cheese, a loaf of frozen bread, and one pound of ground beef. The People Center also offers fresh items from their community garden.

As local organizations serve record amounts of people, they rely on community members to donate time, money and food resources.

Green said they are “desperate” for donations because the federal tax credit for donations ended last year.

Reenders said they’ve experienced a decrease in donations as needs have risen. Reenders said they spend more than $3,000 a month to keep food in the pantry as they shop almost weekly.

To read more of this story, see Saturday's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



Bless those who help the needy, but what strikes me as funny is the weasele politisions mostle republican that complain and want to cut food and medical programs to the poor and low income they call them entitlements,I call them necessities. Moreover who has more entitlements than a politision who has the best of the best provided to them by the taxpayer, you sure don't hear them complain about that.


Yup, you're entirely right. The one's doing the most hollaring about entitlements are the ones that live the good life due to the entitlements that they take, without any hint of guilt, from anyone and everyone they can. They want theirs....and they'd like to have yours too and when you don't give, they are forced to take........
Evil, greedy people.


Sure wish there was a way we could plaster that thought all over highway billboards. Politicians complaining about so called "entitlement" but they sure demand their PAC monies, 180K for Amanda Price and 250K for Arlan Meekof. They get a gold Blue Cross Blue Shield card for life and a pension and nothing can take it away from them. even if they don't get re-elected.



Truth Be Told

Really ?
Who do you think donates the funds for these projects, the poor ?
Time after time studies have shown that conservatives donate more money to charity than so called "party of love" members.

Last week it was announced more people receive "entitlements" in america than those who work ?
Who do you think pays for those programs ? unicorns and magic pixy dust ??

Truth Be Told

Really ?
Who do you think donates the funds for these projects, the poor ?
Time after time studies have shown that conservatives donate more money to charity than so called "party of love" members.

Last week it was announced more people receive "entitlements" in america than those who work ?
Who do you think pays for those programs ? unicorns and magic pixy dust ??


Are you trying to tell me that all those funds for all those projects come from money donated by politicians?

Why don't you stop with the faux news talking points and do some research of your own? I'll bet we wouldn't even agree on a definition of "entitlement" and that's at least some of the problem here.


There is a reason why the increase in need can be identified as starting about five years ago - the Recession of '07-'09 had a severe effect on the economy, with a dramatic increase in the new layer of society = the working poor.

Many people who previously had jobs that paid a living wage with which they could sustain a household, found themselves out of work. As they slowly regained employment, the cruel joke is that very often the new jobs are low-wage/no benefit jobs, often in the service industry, and people are finding they now need public/community assistance.

The working poor - those who work, oftentimes two or more part-time jobs - who need SNAP benefits has grown exponentially while many of the employers (think Wal-Mart, McDonalds, etc) are receiving enormous salaries, businesses are enjoying record profits, and stock prices are up.

52 percent of front-line fast food workers are on some form of public assistance, at a cost of nearly $7 billion a year. And the 10 largest fast food companies account for $3.8 billion of that, the National Employment Law Project estimates.

The people who are served at the various local food pantries are generally sorry to have to be there; they sometimes are people who used to help and contribute to the food pantries who now find themselves on the other side of the table; and, too often, they are needing community assistance for the first time after working hard all their adult lives.

West Michigan is very generous philanthropically, but the need has increased and it is difficult for pantries to maintain inventories. The health and nutrition of our young families, children, and elderly should not become a political football.


A Community Wide Food Drive is being held until Nov. 1, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., at the Spring Lake Presbyterian Church, 760 E. Savidge, Spring Lake. Look for the blue Tysman trailer in the parking lot for drop off. All food will benefit 7 local food pantries, The Peoples Center, and The Salvation Army.


St. John's Episcopal Church on Washington St. In Grand Haven, provides free meals on Wednesdays and Sundays in their "Loving Spoonfull's" Soup Kitchen Ministry....


Hey all, as one who has now worked in this area for a year and a half, I can tell you a few things. 1. The government is not going to fix hunger. 2. It's not a Republican/Democrat issue. 3. The only way to solve each communities hunger issues are for the community itself to get involved. That's how it's been done for thousands of years, we need to take care of our own. Can government programs help? Absolutely. But without the local businesses, charities and most of all citizens all doing a little bit each, the government programs never make a difference. My Mom sent me an awesome email illustrating why we should not count on elected officials (of any party) to fix our local problems. It is as follows (paraphrased):

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.
Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?
Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?
One could add, have you ever wondered why if both Democrats and Republicans are against Childhood Hunger, why does it exist?

Bottom line, we, the community need to each do our part to help those less fortunate than us. Who know, someday we may be the one who needs the help….


have you ever seen a Politician help out at the local food distribution, lets get them out to these line,s and have them see what exactly what its like for the poor people looking for a loaf of bread and a few staple,s for the month, it should be a requirement to receive our entitlements


I quite often enjoy taking trips down to one of our local pantries and stand outside yelling racist and/or bigoted comments at the lazy idiots walking in. Then I walk home, fire up the kerosene powered interweb machine, and hurl insults at all of you.


Yeah, well not so funny this time, but I forgive you because once you grow up and put on your big boy pants you'll feel bad about being this childish and stupid.


These people put in a lot of effort looking for free handouts. Just think if they put in half the effort looking for a job.


exactly right. I'm sure you're upset our Michigan legislators wasted time and energy on stuff like repealing motorcycle laws and fireworks legislation, when they should have been focused on the Michigan economy and jobs for those un- or under-employed seeking community assistance.


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