By Sue Moore
“South County Community Services (SCCS) partners with other food pantries and agencies to serve those who are in poverty or just getting by,” said Danna Downing, SCCS executive director, “and statistics tell us that 41 percent of the county’s population falls into that category,” she adds.
The SCCS food pantry is open for shopping four days a week and meets basic nutrition needs in the south Kalamazoo County area by partnering with Loaves & Fishes, Vicksburg United Methodist Church, the SCCS pantry at the Eagles’ Nest in Schoolcraft, Family Fare, Meijer, Generous Hands, and a wide array of donors. Food donors include church groups, families, the US Postal Service, Curves, the National Honor Society at Vicksburg High School and other community service groups. Each pantry visit provides a four-day food supply once a month. With a referral from an agency like SCCS, a teacher, doctor or any other helping professional, shoppers may come more often. All visit data is reported to a database at Loaves & Fishes, so they will know how many people are being served at any specific location.
“Loaves & Fishes provides on average 2000 pounds of food each month to SCCS at pennies-per-pound due to their ability to buy food at the fewest dollars possible,” Downing said. Food drives in the spring and during the holidays net about 10,000 pounds of food each year. “We also cooperate with Generous Hands, since they are now our next door neighbor in the Village Marketplace,” she said. “Their mission is to help children with food assistance via backpacks over the weekend.”
The lack of fresh food is a challenge, Downing said. The community gardens and other garden donations, help provide some in the summer months. Both Generous Hands and SCCS provide ways for their clients to shop at the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market as well. However, it takes cash and lots of volunteer time to keep fruits and vegetables in stock during the winter months.
SCCS also provides necessary household items that food stamps don’t cover such as laundry soap, dish detergent, deodorant and other personal items, according to Downing. “The whole goal is to help the family stretch its dollars to cover basic needs,” she said. “We see that many people who have never needed help before can truly benefit from our pantry services to avoid choosing between medicine and food or paying the rent instead of feeding the family. We welcome anyone who can use our services to manage financial challenges in the current economy,” she concludes. Downing appreciates all the other players in the food security arena saying “there is more than enough need out there—we are all partners in making life better for residents of the South County region.”
Local Pantry Locations
South County Community Services
Monday-Thursday from 1-5 pm (Call Loaves & Fishes at 343-3663 for an appointment)
Call 649-2901 for referral to Eagles’ Nest site
Vicksburg United Methodist Church
Third Saturday of each month starting at 8:30 am
12 Baskets at 10332 Portage Road
Second & Fourth Saturday from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm