ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — Food insecurity is a growing problem in America, and the pandemic has exacerbated the issue.
One nonprofit in Allegan is doing its part by providing a free, hot meal to anyone who needs it.
The Congregational Kitchen started serving meals in 2006. Every Thursday night, it offers the meals free of charge to anyone in the community.
At first, they served about a dozen people. These days, it’s about 1,000. The rest of the week, they stock local food pantries.
On a recent, busy morning at the Congregational Kitchen warehouse, two truckloads of food waited to be unloaded and sorted so the food could be distributed to pantries across five counties.
“It’s hard to get to all the people and that’s why it’s great that the food pantries pick up food, we know we’re actually going out into the community for it,” said Carrie Lovett, who volunteers with Congregational Kitchen.
That includes thousands of pounds of food, donated by companies across the state.
For Lovett, that’s the part that means the most: knowing food ends up on the dinner tables of those who need it, rather than go to waste.
“All of this food that you see here would otherwise go into a landfill,” Lovett said. “I don’t want that, when you have people on the other hand that are hungry. We have to have a better way of distributing things to people who need it and this is one way we can reach out and do that.”
Every Thursday for the past 15 years, a fresh, hot meal is served to anyone in the community who needs it — with no expectations. The kitchen is entirely run by volunteers, who keep up with the demand with a cheerful smile and a sense of pride.
The organization is always looking for help. You can volunteer to cook, to serve the meals, to work at the warehouse, or to drive across the state to pick up food.
Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the Congregational Kitchen by calling 269.650.1876.