GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Before Kent County Community Action opened their food distribution event Thursday morning at their offices on Wealthy Street, dozens of cars were lined up on Jefferson Avenue. Some were already in the parking lot with their trunks open.
“We’re shooting for 900 households,” said Susan Cervantes, director of KCCA. “And, we’ve done about an average of that for the past four distributions that we’ve had.”
As soon as it was 9 a.m., vehicles drove up to the center’s doors, one by one, where workers and volunteers carried large boxes of food to their doors and trunks or backseats.
“We have fresh apples and pears. We have frozen hamburger patties, pork loins and pork chops. We have canned goods, such as peas and corn,” Cervantes said. “Then there’s some elbow macaroni, some sauces, some juices.”
Cervantes said each box is worth between $75-$90. It’s meant for people to put together as meals or to supplement food they may already have at home.
“It means a lot because it’s hard to get food,” said Winona Grey, who was one of the first drivers to receive a box. “It helps that people are donating. Otherwise we probably wouldn’t have enough money for food for the month.”
Since the pandemic broke out in March 2019, many families have been experiencing food insecurity and hunger, Cervantes said. The pandemic and subsequent shutdowns and pauses hhave led to widespread job loss and difficult times for many.
“Very hard. Very hard ma’am,” said Ken Stokes when asked how the last few months have been for him. “I mean, I just hope everybody enjoys this and then everything gets back to normal and we can proceed from there.”
Cervantes added that it can be embarrassing for people who are experiencing food insecurity to seek help. However, she's glad that Kent County Community Action was busy all morning, passing out food to whoever drove by.
“That’s why we’re here. We’re here to help,” Cervantes said. “What we feel like with all of our services, not just the food distribution, is that we have a resource that can help you out. So please let us help you out and then you can use your resources to fill in your gaps.”