GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Friday mornings starting at 11:30 hundreds of people wait in line to feed both their bodies and their minds at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan.
The lines of car wait for sustenance including 25 lb boxes of produce, and free books that come in English and Spanish from ReadGR.
It's sustenance that Adnoris 'Bo' Torres, Executive Director for the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, says is needed more than every amid COVID-19; "We know that 40% of the persons impacted in Kent County are of Latinx descent, right? We're only 10% of the population, but we're being impacted are very high number."
His associate Daniela Rajas Cortés, the Communications Manager at the Center adds; "For us to be able to give this security, you do see it in their faces. How relieved they are, that they'll be able to go home and bring something to their children."
300 to 400 boxes of food are being given out Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday during June. However, Friday is the only day ReadGR is at the Center as well.
ReadGR volunteers speak in both English and Spanish as they pass out the free books.
Program Manager for ReadGR, and Project Manager of Storytime GR, Becca Walsh-Wolfe says; "We do have a lot of newcomers, people that have just immigrated here and to have a bilingual book is especially helpful. Especially if there's pictures because then you can be working on both your English and your Spanish, and it's helping you to translate."
Torres adds, "Being bilingual, being Puerto Rican, and being part of the Latinx community, understanding that, 'tenemos que tener la información en español,' right? We have to have the information in Spanish, we have to be able to engage."
Cortés emphasizes that the Hispanic Community has been fighting for a long time, "This just was an add on. So it was already raining now it's pouring."
It's partnerships like this between local food pantries and ReadGR that help ease the strain and create a sense of security Fridays at the Hispanic Center.
"We hope that this is a long term engagement for the people of the community. We want them to know that we educate, we empower, we listen, and we educate our community in a very authentic way. This is why the center exists to be able to provide in times that are critical for our community," says Torres.
The food and book drive will continue until June 30th, but the Hispanic Center says they may be able to extend it.
To extend the drive, and to offer more resources for the Hispanic Community, the Center does rely on Donations.
If you are able to donate, click here to do so.