Hoping to help fight hunger in the Boyne area, the Good Neighbors Food Pantry has been established.
The pantry will be open once a week, every Tuesday beginning Sept. 22 from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Depending on the need, another day may be added to the schedule.
“The support we’ve received from the community has been amazing,” said Good Neighbors board president Susan Conklin. “We are grateful to the many businesses, organizations and volunteers who have made it possible for us to get the building ready and get up and running so quickly.”
Volunteers are still needed for various aspects of pantry operations, from stocking shelves to picking up food, to helping on pantry days. Donations for operating the pantry and purchasing food are also welcome.
The Good Neighbors Food Pantry recently formed to help improve access to healthy foods for families in need. Discussions began months ago between The Manna Food Project and area pantries about how to meet hunger needs in the area, and eventually resulted in the formation of a committee to explore options.
That committee became Good Neighbors Food Pantry, and has grown to include many community members, who have taken on the project with enthusiasm.
The Manna Food Project has provided guidance to the new pantry as it developed. Manna is a non-profit organization established in 1987 to help feed the hungry in northern Michigan. Manna operates a food bank, a food rescue program, a “Food 4 Kids” Backpack program, and a food pantry.
The food bank and food rescue program serve 34 partner agencies (food pantries and soup kitchens) in Antrim, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.
Good Neighbors will purchase food from the food bank through Feeding America, which provides surplus and donated food to local food banks at 10% of the retail cost.
Food “rescued” from area stores will also be available to the pantry through Manna.
Poverty and hunger are not always obvious to local communities.
The United Way recently released the ALICE report for Antrim, Charlevoix and Emmet counties that sheds light on this often-unseen poverty.
ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. These are households that earn more than the poverty level, but less than the basic cost of living for the county.
Combining the poverty and ALICE numbers shows how many households are struggling to meet basic needs.
In Charlevoix County, 13 percent of households are below the poverty level and 25 percent of households are at or below the ALICE level, for a total of 38 percent, or 3,855 households struggling to afford basic needs such as food. For more information on the ALICE report, see www.charemunitedway.org/alice.
Another indicator of poverty is the fact that 38.5% of Boyne City students are eligible for free and reduced lunch.
“Good Neighbors Food Pantry will bring together the whole community to work together toward providing access to food for our neighbors struggling with basic needs,” said Conklin. “This will strengthen our community by caring for each other.”
For more information about Good Neighbors Food Pantry or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the Volunteer Connections page at CharEm United Way (charemunitedway.com), or visit Good Neighbors Food Pantry on facebook.
Donations may be sent to Good Neighbors Food Pantry, PO Box 35, Boyne City, MI 49712.