The Holy Family Healthcare Kitchen of Grace is often supplemented with freshly harvested fruits and vegetables are donated by some of the local farmers. We keep the shelves and pallets stocked with rice and beans from the First Congregational Church food pantry in Allegan, and food purchased at a discount through Feeding America.
Each family that comes to Holy Family Healthcare for pediatric visits is asked to complete a food-insecurity questionnaire. Through their answers to questions such as how often they have gone without food during the prior week due to lack of access to or finances for food, we are able to identify those in need of assistance. Staff then fills grocery bags with predetermined quantities of food from the pantry based on the number of family members, and the families in need pick them up at the side door upon their departure.
Our Kitchen of Grace community outreach extends to those living in area migrant camps. Volunteers help us fill boxes of food consisting of non-perishable items such as canned goods; rice; beans; cereal; juice; snacks; powdered milk; and staples such as flour, sugar, and salt. We then take these boxes to migrant camps for distribution along with a source of protein from the freezer (e.g., fish, chicken).
The majority of students within many school districts in the Diocese are eligible for participation in their school’s free and reduced lunch program. While this program ensures that children from poor families receive food during the week, there is no provision for them to receive nutritious meals on the weekends. We have begun to develop Holy Family Healthcare’s Manna Backpack Program, whereby those same children will be given backpacks of food items to take home with them each Friday to help sustain them through the weekends.