Okemos, Haslett support food pantries with time, donations

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Okemos Community Food Pantry, located in the Okemos Community Church, 4734 Okemos Rd., Okemos, Michigan, has served Okemos neighbors for over 25 years. Photo by Zewei Li.

As volunteers, Mary Gardner and her husband John Gardner pick up each week’s food orders at Meijer for the Okemos Community Food Pantry. Okemos Community Food Pantry has nine volunteers like Mary to help the food pantry prepare and distribute food.

“We want to help people who are food insecure in our area,” said Mary. “Also, we want to be a part of making sure that they have at least some basic needs.”

Meridian Township food pantries 

The Okemos Community Food Pantry and Haslett Food Pantry are affiliated with the Greater Lansing Food Bank. They follow its requirements and guidelines for food pantries. Once a month they pick up food from the Greater Lansing Food Bank. 

During the epidemic, many food banks in Lansing faced the problem of lack of volunteers and food shortages, and some of them closed. Okemos and Haslett’s Community Food Banks have not encountered those problems.

“We have very generous donations from the Haslett community, which gives us cash to purchase retail items retail,” said Ruth Linnemann, the service coordinator of the Haslett Food Pantry. “Also, we have a limited or a smaller quantity of foods that individuals actually donate as food items they purchased that then donate to the food pantry.”

Like Haslett Food Pantry, Okemos Community Food Pantry accepts lots of donations from the community to get through this hard time. 

“There were definitely a couple of times when I got pretty worried about running out of those funds, especially during the beginning of the pandemic,” said Beth Baldwin, the office manager of Okemos Community Food Pantry. “But the community has been amazing. They’ve really supported us very strongly.”

Here is an audio interview of Baldwin:

Meaning of food pantries for the communities

Okemos Community Food Pantry and Haslett Food Pantry provide various foods and a wide range of personal needs items. The public only needs to make an appointment by phone to get food.

“They don’t have to tell us their personal information, like income,” said Baldwin. “Our philosophy is that we have plenty of food to serve this community. We absolutely do not want people to be hungry or starving before they come to the pantry, and we just want to help them not run out of their resources.”

The heart-warming approach of Okemos Community Food Store allows the public to receive food without any worries. This is of great significance to the public.

“I think that having a food pantry shows that we care about the people in our community,” said Mary. “People know that they have a place that they can go to if they are in need.”

Food pantries provide sufficient and stable food for the residents of communities, and the communities are also supporting food pantries.

“Community outreach is absolutely crucial. Not only so that people understand how easy it is to use a pantry if you need it,” said Baldwin. “We want people to know that we exist, we want people to know how to contact us and how to use the pantry,”

Baldwin wishes more people in the community to know about food pantries, reach out and volunteer or donate for food pantries. 

“It’s a great blessing for our pantry and even for the community to come in and help support either by giving donations or volunteering or just other support,” said Stacey Nill, the Okemos Community Food Pantry coordinator.

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