By Nancy Johnson
Food Pantry Coordinator
People in the Grand Traverse area are hungry, often very hungry. In fact, one out of four people in this region experience food insecurity. Food security, defined by the USDA, “means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” This means that so many of our neighbors go to bed at night after missing one or more meals that day due to no food. They also worry where they can obtain food for the next day, and the days after that.
Many years ago, a few Grace Church parishioners started to address this hunger by providing food in the undercroft of the church. In 1976, Grace established the first food storage program in Traverse City, which was called The Pantry Shelf and was directed by Fern and Ralph Orcutt. Over time, it has expanded and moved a few times – from two different locations in the church’s basement to a small room in Jubilee House to its current home. An extensive renovation of the garage behind Grace, made possible by Ray and Frances Spedding, facilitated this move in 2014.
In the past, we provided clients with a bag or two of basic groceries, pre-filled by our volunteers. But now we give a flexible shopping experience, providing a variety of emergency food options for those in need. We are an active member of the five-county Northwest Food Coalition, a justice-minded group of food pantries, baby pantries, and meal sites. We get weekly deliveries from Food Rescue, a program of Goodwill Northern Michigan, which provides the pantry with tremendous amounts of produce, meat, bread, and other items.
Partner churches supply us with food and cash donations, and we participate in local food drives. Grace parishioners have also been generous through the years by donating food as well as cash to buy needed items – all tremendously appreciated. Because of these gifts, we can occasionally offer the “fixings” for an extra dinner to our clients beyond their normal allotment of food. What fun, and what a blessing!
What is my prayer for our future? I pray that Grace will continue this vital ministry by providing nutritious food to our neighbors in need, and that those who live in the Grand Traverse area will become more secure in their food accessibility. May a family never go hungry again!
We have lost a few volunteers recently, so I invite you to consider joining us during distribution days on Mondays and Fridays, beginning at noon. If you feel God leading you to minister in this way, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.