By Sue Moore
Sheri Louis of Generous Hands and Drew Johnson at South County Community Services want the public to know that they have plenty of food to distribute. Each organization’s hours are from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the back door of their building at 606 N. Spruce Street in Vicksburg.
“We are experiencing a slow-down in families coming to pick up food at Generous Hands and the food pantry at South County Community Services, just when people might need it most,” said Louis.
“People may be confused about the food being available from us,” Louis commented. “Some of our families that get meals through the school may not think it’s available from Generous Hands too. We have ample supplies which normally go in Friday Packs that are distributed to students at their schools. We have doubled the amount of the vouchers we are handing out. Two vouchers per family are available and worth $80 to $100 at Family Fare. Before the shutdown, the value of the vouchers was $40 or $50 depending on the size of the family.
“One person we heard from thought she was getting the Friday Packs through the school, so she didn’t come to pick up here. Our food distribution is in addition to what the school does,” Louis said.
“Generous Hands has been really blessed,” Louis said. “There is so much support from the community with financial donations and the folks who have dropped off food on our doorstep. We really appreciate getting boxes of cereal donated. Lori Fry went out and purchased 100 boxes and brought them in along with masks that she made for our volunteers. We have had so much support like this from the community in this time of hardship. We have even had to turn volunteers away while trying to limit exposure to the virus.”
South County Community Services is also still operating even though the building isn’t open. “We are giving out boxes of food by appointment and making some deliveries,” Johnson said. He and Austin Wiggins are taking turns coming in to answer phones and facilitate the pantry distribution to people by popping it into the trunk of cars as people drive up to the back door. “We have had a couple of emergency assistance requests that Wiggins oversees through a $16,000 fund that United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region has made available to our clients. That was a big help,” Johnson said. “We believe that many people who have received the government’s stimulus checks do not want to utilize our assistance in case someone else really needs the help. We expect this to change as unemployment gets more difficult to access through the state’s web site.
The Metro van is just for essential trips now. “We are doing all the same services, but most are done over the phone such as utility assistance. We had food boxes coming from Loaves and Fishes that are just for seniors at 26 pounds per person. They too have had a slight decrease in demand. We know the need isn’t changing for seniors that much. We just want people to know to call as we are open for business,” Johnson said.