The Williamston Food Bank has been a staple in the town for 65 years, providing families with food, drinks, personal hygiene items, and much more. Located across from the Larkin and Nortman Memorial Field in the first floor of a dry old building, they have been able to do their work, but soon everything will be changing.
A new larger building is being constructed right next to the food bank, which will be their new home. With a larger building and better equipment like grocery store freezers, the food bank will become client choice. This allows people to come in and choose food that they like and know they will eat. This change will help the food bank make smarter investments in what type of food they buy and manage waste of food.
“I really hate waste,” said director of food bank Jill Cutshaw. “What if every month we give you green beans, but no one in your family likes green beans? Client choice will allow families to always to take food that they will use which will minimize waste.”
The food bank opened its doors in 1953 by local couple Harold and Margaret Larson. Harold Larson, a local mail carrier, was unable to work because he had contracted polio, leaving him and his family in a tough situation financially. But the Williamston community flocked to their doorstep to help the Larson’s, making sure that their bills were paid and they had a roof over their head. After the compassion the Larson’s were shown by the community, they wanted to return the favor by opening the Williamston food bank.
Cutshaw, who was the Williamston postmaster before becoming director of the food bank, takes pride in what her co-worker started.
“At the beginning of this project, Harold and Margaret were helping about 10-20 families out of their own home,” said Cutshaw. “Now we help around 65-80 families a month.”
The food bank works because of people like Cutshaw, who have been volunteering for the past 19 years. Every cent that is collected goes straight back into the food bank, most of it going back into the food they purchase, except for a small amount that goes to expenses that maintain the building. Almost all of the food that is given out comes from three places; The Greater Lansing Food Bank, ALDI’s and D&W Fresh Market.
“We are a very generous food bank,” said treasurer Kim VanErp. “We always want to help the people in this community especially the kids… We all just love what we do.”
The people who receive items from the food bank couldn’t agree more. At the end of their experience they roll their cart out with four to five bags worth of food that lasts about two weeks.
“The food bank is very important to me and my family,” said Williamston citizen Randy Bauer. “It provides us with the food we eat and so much more like toothpaste and a toothbrush.”
But at the end of the day, these people at the food bank don’t volunteer here because they want to be thanked or praised for their work, they just want to help the families in this town.
“You get to know these families and get close to them,” Cutshaw said. “And they greatly appreciate what we do, but I don’t need any kind of recognition it’s just an inner thing for me.”