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Revive & Thrive Project provides healthy meals to those facing health crises

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Inside the basement of Grace Episcopal Church, volunteers are busy at work each week making hundreds of healthy meals to be delivered to those facing health challenges in the greater Grand Rapids area.

Revive & Thrive Projectbegan in 2015, inspired by founder Wendy Borden's breast cancer journey.

Revive & Thrive Project provides healthy meals to those facing health crises

"Despite having a degree in nutrition, it was very hard to put a healthy meal on the table. And I realized that there was not a service in the community that was providing nourishing meals to people fell facing a health crisis," she explained. "The goal of revive and thrive is to help people revive from their illness and to not only be able to provide them with meals, while they're going through a health crisis, but also the tools through nutrition education to be able to thrive after they're feeling better."

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Borden says the organization has gone from delivering 5,000 meals in its first year to 15,000 this year.

The meals are made using locally sourced, fresh foods two days a week and then delivered on Wednesday.

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"I always say that we're more than a meal. So we're not only providing that vital nourishment, but that support and letting them know that people in this community care about them. And that goes a long way," said Borden.

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Volunteers like Evan Arnold help keep the operation going.

The Northview senior is a volunteer teen chef who's learned valuable cooking and life skills over the past two years.

"I like being able to learn not only how to cook, but like, how food, like works with the body and how nutrition really like impacts the body and how the different new ingredients that we use really help," Arnold said. "I think it's important just to give back to your community, because there's people that might be right next door struggling and you might not even know, so just getting back out and helping out in any way that you can, it's just really important."

Stephanie Hoekstra knows firsthand how beneficial the service is, after being diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in 2021.

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"The time that it took in the kitchen to prepare meals just wasn't there anymore. I had a large mass under my arm, and I was in a sling," Hoekstra explained. "A family friend had told us about Revive and Thrive. Within a few days, someone stopped at my house, delivered meals for my entire family, for my husband, and my two kids. And we were completely overwhelmed with gratitude."

Hoekstra is now cancer-free and volunteering with Revive & Thrive as a delivery driver.

"I always said that when I get better, I really want to pay it forward. And I thought it was such an amazing program," she said. "I know it always brightens our week up, and I thought if I could make that difference for other people that I would want to do that."

To learn more about Revive & Thrive, visit its website or call 616-606-3314.