GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As WOOD TV8 took part in the Nexstar Founder’s Day of Caring, a number of our employees spent Friday at Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes.
The food bank is always bustling as it works to tackle hunger in the Kalamazoo area.
“The food you see here will go in and out within the month,” Greta Faworski, the resource development director at Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, explained as she gave 24 Hour News 8 a tour. “They’re set up by nutritional category. Red for proteins, green for fruits and vegetables, yellow for grains and blue are what we call extras.”
When the organization moved into the facility on Portage Street five years ago, the goal was to serve more people.
“We see people from all walks of life and there are people who never thought they’d be in this situation,” Faworski said.
Volunteers take calls from people in need and direct them to one of 24 pantries throughout greater Kalamazoo. The one housed in Loaves & Fishes is the largest.
Forty percent of the food at Loaves & Fishes is purchased wholesale. The rest comes from the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food drives, donations and local farmers. For example, Walther Farms in Three Rivers donates 2,000 pounds of potatoes a week.
Another way Loaves & Fishes stocks its shelves it through “food rescue.”
“We pick up from Costco and Aldi, Town and Country, Sarkozy Bakery. And they’ll pick up day-old bread, might be produce that is past its sell by date. But they are free items,” Faworski said.
Many food pantries across the country don’t have the luxury of allowing patrons to choose their own food. At Loaves & Fishes, it’s possible.
“People are going to pick what they need. Down the line, there will be less waste. Instead of being given things they can’t use or they’re allergic to or what it may be,” Faworski said.
The pantry can serve 35 households in an hour and a half.
“People still very much do not believe there is an issue of hunger in our county,” Faworski said.