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‘She’s like an angel:’ Woman runs free meal program, food pantry to help hungry in Belding

Posted at 3:30 PM, Jun 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-26 15:30:21-04

BELDING, Mich., -- Julie Rodts always knew she would be doing something to help the hungry one day. She can recall growing up amid domestic violence, often hungry for her next meal.

"I knew how it was to go to bed hungry and scared," Rodts told FOX 17 News. "I always knew that if I could help somebody, someday, that's what I was going to do."

After seeing the need in her community, Rodts partnered with God's Kitchen in Grand Rapids to bring a free weekly meal to Belding. For nearly five years now, a hot meal has been served to dozens of people every Thursday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

"Sometimes everybody just needs a little extra help," she explained. "I do feel like it makes a difference."

In the past few years, Rodts has also been instrumental in forming a board of volunteers, Belding Community Outreach and Resource (B-COR), to run a food pantry to further assist families in need.

Rodts picks up items from Feeding America weekly to keep the operation going.

"People have no idea how many hours she spends here stocking the shelves, organizing food, unloading the truck," said close friend Carmin Barker. "She has the biggest heart of anybody I know. She doesn't want anything in return."

Rodts is known for her smile and warm welcome to those who come to the meal every week.

"She's a wonderful woman. She runs a really great place here," said Gloria Lupien, who has relied on the weekly meal for over a year. "I wouldn't know where else to go...Julie's like an angel. It's like a guardian angel for all the people here."

The meal is offered every Thursday at 4:30pm at St.Joseph Catholic Church, 409 S Bridge Street, Belding, Mich.

The food pantry is open at the same location from 2:00-5:30 p.m.

As the June Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Rodts will receive a $500 dollar check courtesy of Independent Bank.

Do you know someone who FOX 17 should feature as our next Pay it Forward Person of the Month? Nominate them here.

Meet Aubrey Cohoon, our May Pay it Forward Person of the Month.