The Cintas Corporation in West Michigan is teaming up with Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank to sponsor a Mobile Food Pantry program at Dickinson Elementary School in Grand Rapids. Beginning today, April 25, this monthly program will provide fruits, vegetables, dairy products and baked goods to students and their families in the Dickinson neighborhood.
According to Principal Nan Evans, that food is desperately needed. More than three quarters of the students at Dickinson Elementary are enrolled in free or reduced-price meal programs. Kids who come to school hungry may be angry or irritable, and they may have trouble concentrating, Evans said. “You might think that a student is ADHD when they’re just hungry."
Evans herself has witnessed the desperation food insecurity can bring. “I have parents that hover over their children to make sure that they get every morsel of food that we offer,” she said. “Kids will horde food in their locker … [because] they’re saving it for family members.”
But, childhood hunger is only one part of a larger problem in the Dickinson community.
When a family is faced with a hunger need, it isn’t directed at one member of the family in particular, it is the entire family that needs the assistance.
Each of Cintas’ 5,000-pound, farmers’ market-style distributions will provide 100 households with enough food to supplement their meals for three to four days.
The partnership between Feeding America West Michigan and Cintas breaks new ground for the Food Bank, being the first Mobile Pantry organized specifically for students and their families.
Dickinson’s first Mobile Food Pantry will take place in the school parking lot at 5 p.m. today, April 25. Unless otherwise stated, subsequent distributions will be held on the fourth Thursday of each month through January 2014.