Food pantries celebrate the holidays by serving local needs

Jan Loveland Contributing Writer

Review file photo

Local scouts pack boxes during a previous Kampout for KAIR, a 24-hour food drive held each fall to support KAIR’s food pantry.


REGION – Heading into the holidays that celebrate kindness and charity toward others, many local groups work hard to harness that seasonal goodwill and to provide food resources for those who need an extra boost as the year ends.

And while all pantries track recipients carefully, the exact size of the need is a bit hard to determine. A 2015 study of Antrim and Kalkaska counties by the United Way’s Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed Study (ALICE) estimated that 41 percent of Antrim households and 43 percent of Kalkaska households were in that position. Another 2017 study by Feeding America, a national nonprofit with a local Cadillac office, estimates that 2,680 people are affected by food insecurity in Antrim County, 12 percent of the county’s population. In Kalkaska County, 2,250 people are affected, approximately 13 percent of the county’s population.

In speaking with local food pantries, it is not surprising to learn that seniors are a significant part of those affected. While the past several years show that some economic recovery has eased these numbers slightly, the need is persistent.

Local food pantries see and experience these needs in individual terms, understanding that for many of their clients, the groceries they pick up are part of a survival strategy – a finely-tuned formula that can be disrupted by other factors. Recently, changes in home heating assistance procedures in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mean that some clients will have to wait longer for heating reimbursement.

As the pantries see it, their clients will need more support in keeping food on the table, and some have increased the number of monthly visits allowed. For pantries trying to help clients, keeping an ear to the ground is a reality and a necessity.

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Bellaire, MI 49615
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